Amid Kenya clashes, growing calls for calm
International mediators are arriving in Kenya to help end the political standoff after last week's disputed vote.
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It is still too early to tell what any negotiations will produce, but experts say that past political impasses give lessons for a possible path out of the present violence.
Ayesha Kajee, an elections expert and head of the International Human Rights Exchange at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa, says that a road map to peace might look like this: Since parliamentary elections seem largely to have been carried off with fewer irregularities, the largest party in Parliament could be allowed to form an interim government for a limited period of time, in order to carry out the necessary tasks of government, such as running schools and health programs, and paying government salaries and contracts.
Will the African Union intervene?
In the meantime, Ms. Kajee says, the AU could be invited to send a fact-finding mission to study the Kenyan election results – a procedure that every AU member except Egypt has agreed to in the AU's new charter on elections and governance. Then the AU mission could be allowed to recommend whether to retally voter counts in disputed areas, hold new elections in disputed areas, or the most expensive option, hold new elections nationwide.
"Kenya is a country that can be an indicator for the political health of the entire region, so why not use this election as a test case," says Ms. Kajee. "It is certainly within the AU's interest and its mission to intervene in a case like this, especially in the name of ending ethnic conflict before it spreads."
Kenya's attorney general called Thursday for an independent body to verify the vote tally. But Wafula Okumu, an African security analyst for the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, says that conducting a retally of the Dec. 27 results will be time-consuming and difficult, given that much of the documentation has either been doctored or has disappeared since election night.
"Just to tally one constituency would take a month, and to do it for the whole country would take 2-1/2 years," says Mr. Okumu. "We are far from the solution, but we are also running out of time.
"What is happening in Kenya is now affecting Uganda, southern Sudan, Burundi, and Rwanda," says Okumu, noting that arms are now starting to flow into Kenya from its neighbors, as ethnic communities and mere gangs prepare for the next round of fighting.
Tensions are also rising for Kenya's neighbors, who depend on Kenya's port of Mombasa to obtain fuel. The UN World Food Programme said Thursday that the violence was delaying key humanitarian supplies to war-torn countries in the region. "It is time for the AU, the East African Community, and the European Union to come in," Okumu says. "They have a stake."
• Muchiri Kioi contributed to this report.