Kenya : High tensions following the opening of Parliamentary sessions

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The first Parliamentary session of the year opened Tuesday morning in Nairobi in a very tense atmosphere. A high number of police force was deployed in the capital and its surroundings to prevent eventual clashes between rival political groups, those belonging to the controversial winner of the general elections on one hand and those belonging to the opposition on the other. This is the the reason behind Kofi Annan’s pending visit, aiming to bring about negotiations between the two parties.

Kenyan MP’s assembled for the first time after the disputed general elections of December 27 among continuing tensions between the Raila Odinga of the Orange demoratic Movement and President Mwai Kibaki of the ruling party, Party of National Unity (PNU). The ODM obtained 105 seats making it the largest party in parliament whilst PNU obtained only 46 seats.

Fear of Clashes

Heavy security has been deployed in the centre of Nairobi, close to the parliament and the Kibera shanty town, an Odinga stronghold. For fear of clashes between partisans of both parties, some Kenyans have gathered at transport stations ready to hit the road should hostilities begin.

There could be a break of violence on Wednesday, the begining of a three day protest organised by ODM and banned by the government. “What law gives the police chief the audacity to ban meetings? What article, which part of the constitution states that he has the power to stop people from meeting or to participate in protest marches as long as there is no state of emergency?” said Odinga.

A divided government

Kofi Annan’s visit is expected during this deleterious atmosphere, later Tuesday or Wednesday. After the failure of the head of the OAU (Organisation for African Union) – John Kuffour- the ex UN Secretary General will try to facilitate dialogue on the two sides. Kofi Annan’s arrival, who called for a peaceful end to the crises on Monday, has fostered mixed feelings among various politicians.
“if Kofi Annan is coming, he is not coming at our invitation… as far as we are concerned, we won an election…” These words were pronounced by the Kenyan minister for Roads and Public Works, John Michuki on Monday. The government on the other hand expressed their willingness for a dialogue last Thursday…

The international community is still exerting pressure on Kenya for a return to peace. The former Nobel winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the former presidents of Tanzania (Benjamin Mkapa), Botswana (Ketumile Masire), Zambia (Kenneth Kaunda) and Mozambique (Joachim Chissano) have been striving to settle the crises that has crippled the country. As for the European Union, they were anticipating financial sanctions among others on Monday, if the unrest continued.

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