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A Call For Kenya To Set-up a TRC - 2003-08-15

An international conference that opened in Nairobi Friday called on Kenya's new government to set up a truth and reconciliation process.

The two-day Truth Commissions and Political Transitions conference is the latest effort by a government-led task force to determine whether Kenya should embark on the same reconciliation process that South Africa underwent to heal the wounds of apartheid.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kiraitu Murungi joined officials from the task force, human rights lawyers and others in saying reconciliation is an essential part of Kenya's transformation.

An earlier task force report found that the majority of Kenyans surveyed favored the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission.

An official from the Kenya Human Rights Commission told V-O-A that the commission should take a close look at such issues as land grabbing, nepotism, torture, political assassinations and government corruption.

He said the task force should also examine the past government's role in the so-called "ethnic clashes" that preceded the 1992 and 1997 elections. Human rights organizations say the government of former President Daniel arap Moi fomented ethnic clashes in different parts of the country as a way of dividing the opposition and consolidating power.

Former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who spoke on the eve of the conference, said Kenya must come to terms with its past if it wants to build a solid foundation for the future.