Kenya: When Will Mediation End the Violence?

by Robin Forman

So, when do I get to stop writing about the violence in Kenya?

I could easily elect not to write about Kenya, however, I just don’t feel right about that.

Fortunately, I’m not completely alone anymore. Looks like the American media have taken more notice of what’s going on in Kenya. A bit of congratulations to The New York Times which put Kenya on the front page this week.

But Kenya is a mess…a mess worth more than what most of the other media outlets are devoting to it.

Let’s review:

  • Kenya is a country in Africa with people.
  • The people of Kenya are killing each other in very gruesome ways.
  • The people who are in positions of power are too busy arguing with each other about who’s to blame for this mess — not to mention bitching about the election of one them — to effectively stop the violence.
  • The death toll is now at least 850.
Fortunately, and about damn time, the African Union's Summit met today (Thursday, Jan. 31) to discuss their outrage about the situation and what to do. This was no emergency meeting, however. The summit was scheduled before the Kenyan violence erupted and was set to discuss other topics, especially industrial development.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the leaders that the violence was "threatening to escalate to catastrophic levels."

Ban met with disputed Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki at the summit. Ban said he will fly to Kenya tomorrow (Friday, Feb. 1) to help mediation efforts alongside Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. And Ban won’t be going alone.

South African President Thabo Mbeki said business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa will also head to Nairobi to join Annan’s mediation team. Ramaphosa was chief negotiator for the African National Congress in talks that produced a peaceful end to apartheid in 1994.

Sounds like we’ve got some pretty decent people headed there. Let’s all hope and pray they don’t get pulled from their cars and shot to death like that other peace facilitator earlier this week.

For more background on the unrest in Kenya, please see these archival posts:
(Photo of riot police in Nairobi by DEMOSH of Nairobi, Kenya via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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