Annan: Prosecute Kenya militias over poll violence

Kenyan authorities should prosecute murderous militias implicated in the country’s devastating post-election violence, but also address any “genuine grievances” they may have, former United Nations leader Kofi Annan said on Saturday.

Annan, speaking in an interview with the Associated Press, also said he was confident the power-sharing deal he brokered between President Mwai Kibaki and new Prime Minister Raila Odinga would hold. The deal includes a commitment to disband and demobilise Kenya’s militias, many of which were blamed for the weeks of violence following December’s disputed polls.

“The government should take effective measures not only to disband to them [the militias], but eventually prosecute,” Annan said.

“If one militia or two are allowed to stand, others will follow.”

On Thursday, Odinga had called for talks with one of Kenya’s most notorious gangs—the Mungiki gang—which held a four-day protest this week against alleged extrajudicial killings by police.

During the protest, 14 people were killed and public transportation in the eastern part of Nairobi and several other towns came to a halt as the Mungiki gang threatened to behead minibus taxi operators who defied the protest call and went to work.

Meanwhile, the army has been hunting for members of a militia called the Sabaot Land Defence Force, which says it is fighting for land redistribution in the western Mount Elgon region.
The group has been linked to a string of kidnappings, murders and mutilations.

“If they have genuine grievances, one should look into them and see what one can do to address the grievance,” said Annan, who returned to Kenya on Thursday to witness the swearing in to office of Odinga and other coalition Cabinet members.

Annan helped broker the February agreement between Odinga and Kibaki to share power, ending weeks of violence that left more than 1 000 people dead and 300 000 displaced after disputed December presidential elections.

The two sides spent weeks after the initial agreement wrangling over Cabinet positions.

Annan said he was confident the power-sharing deal would hold, despite the previously difficult working relationship between Kibaki and Odinga.

“For one it will be his legacy,” said Annan, referring to Kibaki, who is serving his second and final term as president. “For the other, it will determine his future.”

“I think they have sufficient incentive and a sense of patriotism to press ahead with reconciliation, with the necessary reforms in order to give Kenya the institutions it needs to build on for the future,” Annan said.—Sapa-AP

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