The use of Kenya armed forces is gaining ground in the international arena with Britain yesterday saying that the Kenyan army is now "by far the best option" to stop the looming bloodbath as peace talks in Nairobi between PNU and ODM get gridlocked. The British foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch-Brown, said that there was a serious risk of renewed bloodshed if talks broke down irrevocably.
The violence has subsided recently as the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has brokered negotiations registered progress, but he called a pause to the talks yesterday after several fruitless weeks. He said he would now hold direct talks with Mr. Mwai Kibaki and the ODM leader Mr. Raila Odinga.
However, western observers believe that gangs on both sides have used the lull to regroup and prepare for another, and potentially bloodier, bout of violence should the talks fail.
"We're going to have to stop the violence,"Mr. Malloch-Brown said. "The Kenyan military is by far the best option. The question is, can the army be brought in in a non-divisive way?"
He argued that the army is still respected by the Kenyan public as a genuinely national and multi-ethnic institution, unlike the police, but that its generals are reluctant to get involved because they want to maintain its status and unity.
Annan is believed to have issued an ultimatum to Kibaki and Odinga yesterday, telling them they were facing their last chance to contain the conflict before it tore their country apart.
"The talks have not broken down," Annan told reporters later. "But I am taking steps to make sure we accelerate the process and give peace to the people as soon as possible."
He was backed by coordinated statements from the US and European Union threatening sanctions against leaders on both sides if they did not agree to share power.
The EU statement also emphasized "that a means of effective power-sharing in Kenya must be found and that individuals who obstruct the dialogue process will have to face the consequences".
Potential sanctions include travel bans aimed at the political elite on both sides, who holiday and send their children to school in Europe and America.
The EU statement emphasized "that a means of effective power-sharing in Kenya must be found and that individuals who obstruct the dialogue process will have to face the consequences".
Mr. Annan suspended talks between the PNU-government and ODM negotiating teams after it became clear they were going nowhere. "It was bad on Friday, and it just got worse," said one diplomat. Annan has attempted to broker a solution in which the president maintained control of foreign affairs and defence but devolved control over domestic affairs to prime minister. One of the reasons for the breakdown has been Kibaki's insistence on keeping a grip on the finance ministry.
There are also dissenting thoughts about bringing in the army to control the violence should the situation get worse. Mr. Dowden, the director of the Royal African Society, said the deployment of the Kenyan army could be extremely risky. "The army has always been non-political. It's very professional, it does a lot of peacekeeping, well trained, and it is a regular contingent in UN forces," he said. "The last thing they would want to do is step in. But the bigger danger to them is that as this gets more ethnic and tribal, a middle ranking officer finds his grandmother has been killed and takes off, and once bits break off, the whole army unravels. The whole army holding together as a non-ethnic entity is the last barrier between Kenya and complete meltdown."
Meanwhile A visibly frustrated Mr. Annan cautioned that the mediators could not go on "as if it was business as usual". He emphasized that there would have to be constitutional and legal amendments to support the political settlement reached in the talks. His colleague, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa said the talks appeared to be going round in circles. And of notice was also the arrival of Mr. Kikwete. His visit comes just a week after he met Mr Bush who toured Tanzania and several other African countries.
Their remarks coincided with that from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said the "legitimacy" of the parties in the talks depended on a political settlement.
"I want to emphasize that the future of our relationship with both sides and their legitimacy hinges on their cooperation to achieve this political solution. In that regard, we are exploring a wide range of possible actions," she said. "We will also exert leadership with the UN, Africa Union, European Union, and others to ensure that the political solution the Kenyan people deserve is achieved."
Mr Annan Tuesday gave the following verdict of the talks as it transpired that the talks were not moving forward with new demands being made every time the negotiating teams met: Nothing is moving forward; there is no urgency in reaching solutions; no change in the mood of the two sides as the atmosphere is acrimonious.
A new twist was introduced when the Government team turned up at the Monday meeting with a draft agreement on the coalition. The new draft gave fresh guidelines on the membership of the Grand coalition, its policies, how the parties would work together in Parliament and how they would resolve their disputes among other issues. But he called on Kenyans to remain calm. "I am appealing to the public not to panic. The talks have not failed."
Also as no surprise to many are the reports that, investigations have found out that most people killed during the post-election violence in Western and Nyanza provinces died of bullet wounds, according to a report released Tuesday. But in the Rift Valley where most of the deaths occurred, the report found out that majority of the victims were either beaten to death, hacked with machetes or shot with arrows. ODM leaders have been accusing police of misusing firearms while cracking down on protesters especially in western Kenya.
Amnesty groups have said they will demonstrate in solidarity with the people of Kenya and call on the Kenyan Government to protect people from politically motivated and ethnic violence."
The actions will further demand that Kenya's leaders "end the cycle of impunity that perpetuates the violence.
In the United States, vigils will be held outside the Kenyan embassy in Washington and the Kenya consulate in Los Angeles. Another protest is scheduled to take place in Denver, the Colorado city that has a sister-city relationship with Nairobi.
Gatherings in solidarity with Kenya are also planned in the United Kingdom, Australia, Uganda and Kiribati, a Pacific island country.
Amnesty International is likewise urging Internet users to join a "Reach Out for Kenya" group on Facebook, a highly popular social networking site, and to send e-mail messages to Kenyan politicians urging an end to the violence.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has pledged to assert its presence in Kenya if the political situation deteriorates.
In a brief to the UN Security Council on the situation in Kenya on Monday, under-secretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said that the international community should press for solutions both in short-term political problems and the long-term questions.
Sir John said that in his assessment, major humanitarian needs would have to be addressed for many months to come.
"We are currently looking at least a year ahead, even on the basis of a quick and The foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch-Brown, said that there was a serious risk of renewed bloodshed if talks broke down irrevocably The foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch-Brown, said that there was a serious risk of renewed bloodshed if talks broke down irrevocably effective political settlement of the immediate issues. We will strengthen our own presence further, and reinforce our work alongside the Kenyan Red Cross on the basis of a strategic analysis of the needs, a clear action plan, and contingency planning in case things deteriorate," he said.
Sir John, who is also UN's emergency relief coordinator, suggested that the UN will also need to look hard at how to reorient its development programmes for Kenya to reflect the need to deal with the deep underlying problems which have come to the surface.The foreign office minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Mark Malloch-Brown, said that there was a serious risk of renewed bloodshed if talks broke down irrevocably