Suicide Bomber Kills 1 in Israel

DIMONA, Israel – On February 4, a Palestinian carried out a suicide bombing in Dimona’s shopping center, killing at least one Israeli and injuring at least 10 others.  A second suicide bomber was killed by Israeli police before he could detonate his explosives belt.  Responsibility for the attack was claimed by al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant wing of Fatah, along with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).  This is the first suicide bombing in Israel since January 2007.

This comes a week after the breach of the Gaza-Egypt border and follows Israeli concerns of militants and weapons entering Gaza.  There are conflicting reports of where the bomber came from.  The Telegraph states that al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims that the bomber came from Gaza.  While, the Associated Press writes that the group stated that the bomber came from Ramallah in the West Bank.

In addition to reports that the suicide bomber entered through the breached Rafah border, James Hider, Middle East Correspondent of The Times, states that there are reports that two busloads of Palestinian militants, who were in Syria and Iran, arrived at the Rafah border and crossed into Gaza.  The bombing and fear, resulting from the border breach and continued rocket attacks, could lead to Israel toughening its stance against militants in the occupied territories.

Arye Mekel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Israel will fight terrorism by “all necessary means.”

For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera – Israel Hit by Suicide Attack – 4 February 2008

Associated Press – 1 Killed by Israel Suicide Bomber – 4 February 2008

Jerusalem Post – Woman Killed, 10 Hurt, 1 Critically in Dimona Suicide Attack – 4 February 2008

Telegraph – Suicide Bomber Kills Israeli Woman – 4 February 2008

Times (London) – Suicide Bomber Strike in Israeli Nuclear Town – 4 February 2008

Kenyan Leaders Resume Peace Talks

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Eastern and Southern Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya – Following a deadly weekend, which claimed the lives of at least 20 people in various parts of Kenya, parties from both sides met again today to resume peace efforts. Under the leadership of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, mediators for Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met on Friday and agreed to a 4 point agenda to resolve the crisis.

The negotiations were met with a set-back. Chief mediator Cyril Ramaphosa, a South African business tycoon credited with negotiating the end of the Apartheid in South Africa in 1994, pulled out of the negotiations. Ramaphosa was chosen by Annan himself, but government complaints that he had business links to Odinga has led him to withdraw in order to maintain the negotiation momentum. Ramaphosa has denied such links to Odinga.

Even with this setback, Annan reports that the group dealt with Agenda Two, the humanitarian issues. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described Kenyan’s post election humanitarian state as “unprecedented.” More than a quarter million people have been displaced since the violence erupted and more than 900 people have died.

Tomorrow, the group intends to battle the key issue, the disputed December 27 re-election of Kibaki over Odinga that has triggered political and ethnic clashes. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), along with many countries from the West, insists the election was rigged but Kibaki claims he won the presidency fairly. Both sides have traded blame surrounding the violence accusing each other of planning and executing the post-election bloodshed.

Annan gave both parties 15 days to stop the violence. Yet, even as mediators agreed to peace, the violence continued.  Several homes were set on fire along with three schools, Koiyet Primary, St Ann Academy, and Ribaita Primary School.

However, there are signs of improvement. In the small town of Sotik, gangs have agreed to disarm according to local parliament member, Lorna Loboso. Also the government has lifted the month long ban on live television broadcasting since the violence has eased and “security is better.”

For more information please see:

AllAfrica.com – Kenya: Talks to End Crisis Resume Amid Continuing Unrest – UN – 4 February 2008

Reuters: Africa – Kenya Rivals Return to Talks but Mediator Pulls Out – 4 February 2008

Yahoo News (AP) – Kenya Ends TV Ban, says Violence Easing – 4 February 2008

AllAfrica.com- Kenya: Hopes and Fears as Talks Enter Key Stage – 4 February 2008

Egypt Seals Gaza Border

By Kevin Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt closed its breached border wall with Gaza on Sunday morning, ending 11 days of shopping expedition for Palestinian residents of the blockaded territory. Egyptian troops allowed Palestinians and Egyptians to cross the border so they can return home on the other side, but prevented any new cross-border movement.

According to Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, Egypt agreed to coordinate with Hamas to seal the Gaza border temporarily while the Egyptians search for a way to reopen the border. Zahar also said Egypt agreed to enable thousands of Palestinians stuck in Egypt to go to third world countries where they already have visas or residency permits.

Hamas blew the wall open on January 23 to end a seven-month Israeli and Egypt blockade of Gaza. Since the border breach, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have crossed the border to stock up on necessities in Egypt and Hamas has thwarted repeated attempts by Egypt to close the frontier.

During the blockade, thousands of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip were denied access to the outside world. The Egyptian authorities have prevented the Palestinians from traveling abroad, including those who have legitimate reasons. Some had already been traveling abroad for medical treatment, or had appointments for treatment, while others were employed or studying in different countries.

Palestinians also lacked food, medicines, fuel and other basic necessities. Right before the border breach in January, the Israeli authorities had tightened their already stifling blockade on Gaza, making food and other supplies scarcer. United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, has said that only 32 truckloads of goods entered Gaza between January 18 and 29 due to the blockade, causing a backlog of some 224 trucks belonging to various UN agencies to build up. Before the tightening of the Israeli blockade, an average of 250 trucks entered Gaza daily.

Zahar said Egypt plans to talk with European officials concerning the border standoff. The EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, was expected to arrive in Cairo on Saturday. The international Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, is also scheduled to come to the region.

For more information, please see:

Wasthington Post – Egypt closes border with Gaza – 3 February 2008

AFP – Gaza border with Egypt sealed after mass exodus – 3 February 2008

The Associated Press – Egypt to seal Gaza border Sunday – 2 February 2008

BBC News – Crossing into Egypt for supplies – 2 February 2008

Amnesty International – Egypt blocks Gazan’s access to the outside world – 31 January 2008

Turkish Police Criticized for its Human Rights Record

By Vivek Thiagarajan
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Middle East

STRASBOURG, France- The European Court of Human Rights determined that Turkish police violated the human rights of two prisoners during their interrogation.  The prisoners received scarring from the electroshock that was used on their hands, feet, and genitals.  The prisoners were held by the Turkish gendarme.  The Turkish gendarme is the branch of the Turkish Armed Forces that acts as an extension of the Turkish police force.  (Gulf Daily Times)  Mehmet Ali Kaplan complained that when he was imprisoned he was blindfolded, beaten, tortured by having his testicles squeezed.  (AFP) Listing the allegations, the court noted: “He had received electric shocks through one of the toes on his right foot, his right thumb and his penis for about three hours”. (Gulf Daily Times) The court awarded the victims 8,000 euros ($11,836.80) in compensation. The gendarmes involved in the interrogation were tried and cleared of all liability in a Turkish court.

Also, in another similar case a prisoner suspected to be who was suspected to be a member of the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party.  The prisoner complained that the police brutalized him.  He stated that he was struck on the head by a police club and had his genitals squeezed.  The court awarded the prisoner 5,000 euros ($7,398) because of the lack of a sufficient investigation into the claims.

The 2007 European Court of Human Rights annual report stated that there were 319 judgments made against Turkey for its violations of the European Convention of Human rights.

For more information, please see:

Nasdaq (AFP)- European Court Condemns Turkey Over Police Torture- 31 January 2008

Jurist- Europe right court rules against Turkey in police abuse cases- 1 February 208

Gulf Times- European court slams Turkey over police torture – 1 February 2008

Bianet- HRW Report: Human Rights Trend is “Retrograde”- 31 January 2008

Sri Lanka: Poor Human Rights Record Noted on Day of Independence

By Elizabeth Breslin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka- As Sri Lanka prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence, its human rights record is in the spotlight.  Attention is also focused on the country due to a bombing of a bus on Saturday and then the bombing of a train station on Sunday by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (also known as the Tamil Tigers or LTTE), killing a total of 29 people and wounding over 100.

In its recently-released World Report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that in the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lanka government, little consideration is shown for civilians.  HRW reported that the two sides “violate international humanitarian law… by indiscriminately firing on civilian areas and unnecessarily preventing the delivery humanitarian aid.”

In 2007, Sri Lanka enacted further Emergency Regulations giving the government broad powers to arrest and detain citizens without charge.  The government has used this power to arbitrarily arrest ethnic Tamils, journalists, and political activists.

Furthermore, HRW reported that “[g]overnment security forces are implicated in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, forcibly returning internally displaced persons… to unsafe areas, restricting media freedoms, apparent complicity with the abusive Karuna group, and widespread impunity for serious human rights violations.”

HRW found that the world community was concerned over the situation in Sri Lanka during 2007, but that action was “slow and lacked cohesion.”

Many countries have recently suspended aid due to concerns over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.  The US government has suspended over 110 million USD, the UK has suspended over 3 million USD, and Sri Lanka’s top donor, Japan, threatened to cut off aid as well if the violence continues.

Ethnic turmoil has affected the country for more than 30 years, and the separatist struggle has taken over 60,000 lives.  The civil war has emerged as Asia’s longest ethnic conflict.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – S Lanka anniversary amid tensions – 4 February 2008

AFP – Sri Lanka marks freedom day amid bombs and bloodshed – 3 February 2008

Nidahasa – Global Concern Over Worsening Human Rights Record of Sri Lanka – 1 February 2008

AFP – International action slow to stem Sri Lanka bloodshed: HRW – 1 February 2008

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2008: Sri Lanka Events of 2007 – 31 January 2008

Sri Lanka: Poor Human Rights Record Noted on Day of Independence

By Elizabeth Breslin
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka- As Sri Lanka prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary of independence, its human rights record is in the spotlight.  Attention is also focused on the country due to a bombing of a bus on Saturday and then the bombing of a train station on Sunday by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (also known as the Tamil Tigers or LTTE), killing a total of 29 people and wounding over 100.

In its recently-released World Report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that in the conflict between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lanka government, little consideration is shown for civilians.  HRW reported that the two sides “violate international humanitarian law… by indiscriminately firing on civilian areas and unnecessarily preventing the delivery humanitarian aid.”

In 2007, Sri Lanka enacted further Emergency Regulations giving the government broad powers to arrest and detain citizens without charge.  The government has used this power to arbitrarily arrest ethnic Tamils, journalists, and political activists.

Furthermore, HRW reported that “[g]overnment security forces are implicated in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, forcibly returning internally displaced persons… to unsafe areas, restricting media freedoms, apparent complicity with the abusive Karuna group, and widespread impunity for serious human rights violations.”

HRW found that the world community was concerned over the situation in Sri Lanka during 2007, but that action was “slow and lacked cohesion.”

Many countries have recently suspended aid due to concerns over Sri Lanka’s human rights record.  The US government has suspended over 110 million USD, the UK has suspended over 3 million USD, and Sri Lanka’s top donor, Japan, threatened to cut off aid as well if the violence continues.

Ethnic turmoil has affected the country for more than 30 years, and the separatist struggle has taken over 60,000 lives.  The civil war has emerged as Asia’s longest ethnic conflict.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – S Lanka anniversary amid tensions – 4 February 2008

AFP – Sri Lanka marks freedom day amid bombs and bloodshed – 3 February 2008

Nidahasa – Global Concern Over Worsening Human Rights Record of Sri Lanka – 1 February 2008

AFP – International action slow to stem Sri Lanka bloodshed: HRW – 1 February 2008

Human Rights Watch – World Report 2008: Sri Lanka Events of 2007 – 31 January 2008

Islamic Insurgents in Algeria Use More Suicide Bombings

By Kevin Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

THENIA, Algeria – Islamist armed groups in Algeria is increasingly relying on suicide bombers to deliver its strikes.

On Tuesday, a car bomb exploded outside a police station in northern Algeria, killing at least two people and wounding 23 others. Officers opened fire on a vehicle that was speeding toward the local police station in the town of Thenia. The vehicle exploded before it reached the building, leaving a 6-foot-wide crater. The force of the blast stopped a clock on nearby City Hall and damaged surrounding buildings.

Though no one immediately claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, authorities believe the bombing was carried out by an Algerian al-Qaida affiliate who was also behind twin suicide bombings that killed 37 people in December. On December 11, two small trucks loaded with explosive materials struck U.N. offices and a government building, killing at least 37 people, 17 of them U.N. workers.

The Algerian al-Qaida affiliate – emerged from an alliance between Osama bin Laden’s international terrorist network and an Algerian Islamist movement known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC – has been actively calling for insurgency since January 2007. Before the alliance, the number of rebels fighting to set up purist Islamic rule had been falling dramatically after a decade of violence that began in 1992, when the then army-backed government canceled the country’s first multiparty elections to prevent a radical Islamic party from victory. Armed groups in return sought to overthrow the government, and up to 200,000 people were killed in the ensuing violence.

Violence has fallen since then, but the GSPC’s alliance with al-Qaida last year seems to have rekindled the main armed group’s interest in the revolt and they began to wage larger-scale bombings and target foreigners.

Algerian security forces have recently stated that they have dismantled a rebel gang responsible for the twin bombing of U.N. offices back in December. The forces killed two suspects and arrested another two.

For more information, please see:

The Associated Press – Group behind UN bomb dismantled – 1 February 2008

Reuters – Algeria says smaller rebel cells test terror hunt – 31 January 2008

Boston Herald – Car bomb blast outside Algerian police station kills at least 2 – 29 January 2008

Guardian Unlimited – Car bomb blast in Algeria kills 2 – 29 January 2008

Unrest Continues In Bangladesh

By Kristy Tridhavee
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

DHAKA, Bangladesh – On January 31st, Human Rights Watch (HRW) publicly criticized the Bangladesh government’s treatment of civil rights.  HRW alleged that government has curtailed basic rights during its emergency rule. Brad Adams, Asia Director at HRW, stated, “The interim government is abusing its emergency powers to target individuals who are trying to protect workers’ rights in Bangladesh’s most important export industry. This should set off alarm bells among donors and governments who don’t seem to understand or care how the authorities are using the state of emergency to systematically suppress basic rights.”

The unrest between labor rights activists and government officials has escalated in the last few weeks. On January 22nd, authorities arrested a staff member of the American Center for Labor Solidarity, and two days later authorities questioned a Danish national who works for the Workers Rights Consortium. Criminal charges have also been filed against at least a dozen union members. Other activists also complain that they are under constant surveillance, and authorities are monitoring them for “engineering or inciting subversive activities within the garment industry.” Most recently, Mehedi Hasan, a field worker for the Workers Rights Consortium, was arrested and is still in police custody for his help in organizing union activities.

Bangladesh law enforcement has confirmed that Mehedi Hasan and other labor leaders were involved in provoking the unrest and protests in the garment industry. Court sources have reported that Mehedi Hasan confessed to interrogators that he collected information about workers’ problems and emailed the information to WRC headquarters in Washington DC. He also confessed to encouraging garment workers to press for their demands and holding meetings with garment workers.

Relations between journalists and Bangladesh authorities are poor. Journalists allege that the army, intelligence agencies, and paramilitary groups have threatened and intimidated them, warning them against defaming the government and army. Elaine Pearson, Deputy Asia Director at HRW, said, “The harassment and intimidation of numerous journalists and activists has instilled enough fear that the media is now censoring itself, especially when it comes to the military.”

Bangladesh is currently under emergency rule and has been so since January 2007. President Iajuddin Ahmed declared emergency rule because of weeks of violent street protests following electoral reforms. The government has promised new elections before the end of 2008.

For more information, please see:

The Daily Star – Provocation of Foreign Body, Labour Leaders Found in Probe –31 January 2008

Human Rights Watch – Bangladesh: Labor Activists in Export Sector Harassed –31 January 2008

Impunity Watch – Bangladesh Arrests Labor Rights Activist – 30 January 2008

International Herald Tribune – Bangladesh Rebuts Critical Human Rights Report– 1 February 2008

BRIEF: Violence Continues Despite Kenya Peace Plan

NAIROBI, Kenya – More than 20 people have died in Kenya following Friday’s agreement by the government and opposition on a framework peace plan.  Tribal gangs have continued to burn homes and tea plantations throughout the Rift Valley, sending even more residents from their homes.   

Further clashes have been reported in the Kericho district where opposition MP David Too was shot dead by a policeman on Thursday.  In Kericho, mobs set fire to slum dwellings inhabited by members of the Kikuyu tribe.  A youth manning a roadblock told Reuters: “Let Annan do his bit but there’s going to be no resolution.  The clashes will continue.” 

Also in the Rift Valley, in the town of Eldoret, a church was burned down by youths.  A witness said that those hiding inside the church managed to escape unharmed.   Furthermore, there are accusations that the police in Eldoret are using excessive violence, and that police have shot dead 16 people and injured 58 others in the last four days. 

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Kenya’s Rift Valley burns despite talks of peace – 2 February 2008

AFP – Dozens dead as clashes overshadow Kenya peace plans – 2 February 2008

AllAfrica.com – Kenya: Army Using Excessive Force in Eldoret – 2 February 2008

BBC News – Violence follows Kenya peace plan – 2 February 2008

Chadian Rebels Advance to Presidential Palace

By Elizabeth Costner
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa

N’DJAMENA, Chad – Chadian rebels seeking to overthrow President Idriss Deby have made their way to the capital and are fighting government troops around the presidential palace.   The rebels closed in on the capital with their pickup trucks mounted with machine guns following battles against Deby’s troops on Friday northeast of the city.

There has been intense gunfire in the city and witnesses report that army tanks have been burning in the streets. The country’s foreign minister however has said the President is safe and that the situation is under control. French Defense Ministry spokesman Christophe Pazouk told the BBC that the rebels numbered in the thousands and that they had entered the city with surprising ease.

The French and US embassies had begun evacuation procedures however once the rebels entered the city the French mission told its citizens to stay at home under cover.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the situation of France’s former colony with Deby and reinforced its military contingent on Friday. 

The rebels have said that if they take over they will impose transitional rule for two years before organizing free and fair elections.  Chad has had several coups since their independence from France in 1960.   

President Deby has been in power since 1990, and several years ago caused an outcry when he changed the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.   He has repeatedly been accused of corruption in the new oil sector, and recently there have been several defections from his clan-based inner circle to various rebel movements. 

Chad accuses the Sudanese government of aiding the rebels, claiming the rebels advanced from the war-torn Darfur region heavily armed.  Khartoum has repeatedly denied any such accusations.

Meanwhile, the African Union leaders meeting in Addis Ababa expressed concern over the situation in Chad which has led to a delayed deployment of European Union peacekeepers. 

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Chad rebels fight inside capital – 2 February 2008

Reuters – Rebels enter Chad’s capital, fight around palace – 2 February 2008

Reuters – France, US prepare to evacuate nationals from Chad – 2 February 2008

VOA News – Chadian Rebels, Government Forces Clash Inside Capital – 2 February 2008

Bloomberg – France Prepares Evacuation of Foreigners in Chad Amid Fighting – 2 February 2008

Chadian Rebels Advance to Presidential Palace

By Elizabeth Costner
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa

N’DJAMENA, Chad – Chadian rebels seeking to overthrow President Idriss Deby have made their way to the capital and are fighting government troops around the presidential palace.   The rebels closed in on the capital with their pickup trucks mounted with machine guns following battles against Deby’s troops on Friday northeast of the city.

There has been intense gunfire in the city and witnesses report that army tanks have been burning in the streets. The country’s foreign minister however has said the President is safe and that the situation is under control. French Defense Ministry spokesman Christophe Pazouk told the BBC that the rebels numbered in the thousands and that they had entered the city with surprising ease.

The French and US embassies had begun evacuation procedures however once the rebels entered the city the French mission told its citizens to stay at home under cover.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the situation of France’s former colony with Deby and reinforced its military contingent on Friday. 

The rebels have said that if they take over they will impose transitional rule for two years before organizing free and fair elections.  Chad has had several coups since their independence from France in 1960.   

President Deby has been in power since 1990, and several years ago caused an outcry when he changed the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.   He has repeatedly been accused of corruption in the new oil sector, and recently there have been several defections from his clan-based inner circle to various rebel movements. 

Chad accuses the Sudanese government of aiding the rebels, claiming the rebels advanced from the war-torn Darfur region heavily armed.  Khartoum has repeatedly denied any such accusations.

Meanwhile, the African Union leaders meeting in Addis Ababa expressed concern over the situation in Chad which has led to a delayed deployment of European Union peacekeepers. 

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Chad rebels fight inside capital – 2 February 2008

Reuters – Rebels enter Chad’s capital, fight around palace – 2 February 2008

Reuters – France, US prepare to evacuate nationals from Chad – 2 February 2008

VOA News – Chadian Rebels, Government Forces Clash Inside Capital – 2 February 2008

Bloomberg – France Prepares Evacuation of Foreigners in Chad Amid Fighting – 2 February 2008

Chadian Rebels Advance to Presidential Palace

By Elizabeth Costner
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Africa

N’DJAMENA, Chad – Chadian rebels seeking to overthrow President Idriss Deby have made their way to the capital and are fighting government troops around the presidential palace.   The rebels closed in on the capital with their pickup trucks mounted with machine guns following battles against Deby’s troops on Friday northeast of the city.

There has been intense gunfire in the city and witnesses report that army tanks have been burning in the streets. The country’s foreign minister however has said the President is safe and that the situation is under control. French Defense Ministry spokesman Christophe Pazouk told the BBC that the rebels numbered in the thousands and that they had entered the city with surprising ease.

The French and US embassies had begun evacuation procedures however once the rebels entered the city the French mission told its citizens to stay at home under cover.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the situation of France’s former colony with Deby and reinforced its military contingent on Friday. 

The rebels have said that if they take over they will impose transitional rule for two years before organizing free and fair elections.  Chad has had several coups since their independence from France in 1960.   

President Deby has been in power since 1990, and several years ago caused an outcry when he changed the constitution to allow him to run for a third term.   He has repeatedly been accused of corruption in the new oil sector, and recently there have been several defections from his clan-based inner circle to various rebel movements. 

Chad accuses the Sudanese government of aiding the rebels, claiming the rebels advanced from the war-torn Darfur region heavily armed.  Khartoum has repeatedly denied any such accusations.

Meanwhile, the African Union leaders meeting in Addis Ababa expressed concern over the situation in Chad which has led to a delayed deployment of European Union peacekeepers. 

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Chad rebels fight inside capital – 2 February 2008

Reuters – Rebels enter Chad’s capital, fight around palace – 2 February 2008

Reuters – France, US prepare to evacuate nationals from Chad – 2 February 2008

VOA News – Chadian Rebels, Government Forces Clash Inside Capital – 2 February 2008

Bloomberg – France Prepares Evacuation of Foreigners in Chad Amid Fighting – 2 February 2008

Kenyan Leaders Agree to Peace Plan

By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Eastern and Southern Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya – Rival parties, President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, have agreed to an immediate peace plan to end the violence. Both sides signed a four point agenda covering short and long-term solutions to resolve the crisis.

According to former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the immediate goals that can be handled or resolved within 7 to 15 days are: 1) an end to ethnically motivated killing; 2) delivery of humanitarian aid to the affected; 3) and resolving the immediate political crisis. The ethnic division and decades-old resentment is an issue that may take at least a year to resolve. All agree the most important issue right now is to maintain the peace and stop the killing.

Senior opposition official Musalia Mudavadi called on the public to disband any illegal militia. Kenya’s Justice Minister Martha Karua agreed and said “steps would be taken to protect life and property.”

At least, 850 people have died within 15 days and more than 300,000 are displaced.

Further negotiation and mediation are expected to resume on Monday.  Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-Moon traveled to Kenya for the day to express his support and appeal to the leaders and negotiators. In a released statement to the press, Ban asked both sides to “look beyond [their] individual interest. Look beyond the party lines.”

Although mediation is progressing, there are signs that things have not changed at all. A mob of 3,000, armed with machetes and clubs, killed a police officer in the home village of opposition lawmaker David Kimutai Too. Too was fatally shot by a police officer yesterday. Police claim the killing was the result of a love quarrel, and are treating it as a “crime of passion” but Odinga insists the killing was an assassination.

Loo’s murder triggered an on set of violence and added to the distrust of police, who have been accused of using excessive force.

Elsewhere one journalist reports to seeing 20 homes on fire and two policemen with arrow wounds during Annan’s press conference.

The road connecting Eldoret and Keircho, once 100 miles of one of the prettiest drives in the country has now become “a gauntlet of machete-wielding teenagers” with at least 20 checkpoints. Identification is demanded at these roadblocks to determine ethnic identity. 

The lawlessness in many regions of Kenya, like the country-side, has been compared to Somalia and Darfur, Sudan. With the nation in such a state of unrest, many wonder if Kenya can regain its national image as one of the continent’s more stable nations and strongest economies.

For more information please see:

The New York Times – Kenyan Peace Plan Reached, but Thievery Remains – 2 February 2008

Yahoo News – Kenyan Rivals Agree to End Violence – 1 February 2008

Reuters: Africa – Kenya’s Parties Agree to Stop Violence – 1 February 2008