UN presses Kenyan rivals for end to crisis
Kenya's political rivals pushed ahead with crisis talks yesterday amid new deaths and increased UN Security Council pressure to end weeks of bloodshed.
As violence claimed 10 more lives in western Kenya, the opposition accused the government of arming militias to sow terror following disputed presidential elections in December.
Negotiators for President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga resumed talks led by Kofi Annan after the UN Security Council issued strong backing for the former UN secretary general's mediation.
In its first formal statement on the crisis, the UN body expressed "deep concern that, despite the commitments made ... civilians continue to be killed, subjected to sexual and gender-based violence and displaced from their homes."
Britain's UN ambassador said the Security Council statement underscored "the importance of Kenya's leaders putting national interest above partisan advantage."
"That's what we in the Security Council are looking to Kenya's leaders to do," said John Sawers.
Annan has set a deadline of seven to 15 days to resolve the crisis sparked by the December 27 vote, which the opposition claims was rigged. International observers have also cited serious flaws during vote-counting.
The opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) charged the government had ordered firearms from a Chinese company to arm militias linked to Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU).
"The Kibaki administration continues to use tax-payers' money to purchase firearms for PNU militia," ODM secretary general Anyang Nyongo told a news conference.
He accused Kibaki's party of "raiding official armouries" to equip the militias "who are then unleashed to kill innocent Kenyans protesting the flawed presidential elections."
The government dismissed the accusations a "preposterous", with spokesman Alfred Mutua saying "these accusations are not helping the talks, they are undermining dialogue."
Ten people were killed in tribal clashes in the northwestern region of Trans Nzoia Wednesday and overnight, a police commander told AFP.
Another 34 people have died in violence in the area since the start of the week, including at least nine who were shot by police cracking down on gangs who have torched houses and other property, police sources said.
The Red Cross has put the death toll since the elections at over 1,000 and says 300,000 people have fled their homes, with some 50 tent camps set up throughout the country.
EU Development Commis-sioner Louis Michel was in Nairobi for meetings with key players after saying he believed "a decisive political breakthrough" could come in the next few days.