The Nation (Nairobi)

2 January 2008

Kenya: Calls for Peace As Military Deployed in Humanitarian Crisis

Nairobi — The military has been deployed to various parts of the country affected by violence following President Kibaki's re-election.

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the military has been deployed to assist in averting a humanitarian crisis. He said the soldiers will help in the distribution of food, blankets and medical supplies in those areas.

"This is not the first time we are undertaking this venture," said Dr Mutua. "The military has always assisted in undertaking these assignments and this time is no exception," he added.

Dr Mutua also said the government is ruling out mediation as a means to resolve the skirmishes rocking parts of the country following the impasse over the controversial presidential election results.

The spokesman said the country was not at war to warrant the deployment of mediators to bridge peace in the country.

"We have not yet reached a Somali like situation to allow mediators to come to our country," he told a news conference.

"Dialogue is the way to go. The President is willing to engage the various aggrieved parties in dialogue in a bid to resolve all the problems facing this country," he added.

He condemned the recent spate of killings throughout the country blaming political leaders for inciting their supporters to violence. "Leaders must be responsible for the action of their supporters," he said

Dr Mutua's pronouncements appear to pour cold water in the various initiatives by the international community to find a lasting solution to the stalemate in the country.

Meanwhile, the umbrella workers union COTU has appealed to President Mwai Kibaki to initiate dialogue with other parties to solve the political crisis.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the crisis facing the country now is politically instigated and thus it can only be solved by political means.

He said Kenya has been known for long as a peace brokering nation amongst other African countries and regretted that the country is now going through the stalemate.

He appealed for calm and tolerance amongst Kenyans citing the previous co-existence as a reason to indicate the unity we share as a nation. He added that Kenyans cannot afford to sit back and watch what they have built in years destroyed.

"Ordinary Kenyans who are dying never participated in the irregularities being cited in the electoral process. They only exercised their democratic right to vote," said Mr Atwoli.

In Nairobi, the South African High Commissioner has confirmed that Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu is on his way to Kenya, to mediate the election crisis.

The African Union has also sent a statement to the Nation, confirming that the AU Chairman and Ghana's president John Kufour is on his way to Nairobi.

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