Kenya

U.S. and British leaders call for end to Kenyan violence

Joint statement cites independent reports of serious voting irregularities

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband jointly cited the need for "a sustained call from Kenya's political leaders for the cessation of violence by their followers" and called for the country's leaders to engage "in a spirit of compromise that puts the democratic interests of Kenya first."

Their joint statement, issued January 2, comes after days of violence across the country have left as many as 300 people dead and caused tens of thousands to flee their homes to escape looters and armed mobs.

In one instance, dozens of people who had sought shelter in a church in the western city of Eldoret were killed January 1 when the building was set on fire by a mob.

The violence follows the country's December 27, 2007, presidential election, in which incumbent President Mwai Kibaki claimed victory over opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Rice and Miliband congratulated Kenyans on their continued commitment to democracy, but noted "independent reports of serious irregularities in the counting process."

Rice and Miliband said the "immediate priority" includes "an intensive political and legal process" to help build unity and peace in the country.

They described the situation in Kenya as an "important moment for democracy in Africa" and applauded the commitment of the African Union and the European Union to remain engaged.

The United States and the United Kingdom also pledge "the diplomatic and political efforts of our two countries to support reconciliation and national unity at this vital time for Kenya and the region," the two leaders said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Rice is reaching out to both Odinga and Kibaki to urge them to work together for political reconciliation and an end to the violence.

"It's important for Kenya to move beyond this," he said, and for both individuals and their political parties to "negotiate a political settlement" within the confines of Kenya's law and Constitution.

Although the United States and others such as the European Union are aware of election irregularities, Kenya's electoral commission "has spoken," McCormack said. "What needs to happen now is that these two individuals need to find a way to bridge the political differences that remain between them."

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

Annex: Statement by United States, United Kingdom on Situation in Kenya

Pledge diplomatic, political efforts to support reconciliation, unity in Kenya

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 2, 2008

Media Note

Joint Statement by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Situation in Kenya

Following is the text of a joint statement, issued earlier today by the Government of the United Kingdom, by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband on the situation in Kenya.

We have closely followed the events in Kenya over the last 48 hours. We congratulate the Kenyan people on their commitment to democracy. However there are independent reports of serious irregularities in the counting process. The immediate priority is to combine a sustained call from Kenya's political leaders for the cessation of violence by their followers with an intensive political and legal process that can build a united and peaceful future for Kenya. In that context we welcome the call by the African Union for the parties to end the violence; we call on all political leaders to engage in a spirit of compromise that puts the democratic interests of Kenya first; we applaud the commitment of the EU and Commonwealth as well as the AU to stay engaged at this important moment for democracy in Africa; and we pledge the diplomatic and political efforts of our two countries to support reconciliation and national unity at this vital time for Kenya and the region.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)