By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Top U.S. diplomat dispatched to Kenya to press leaders for calm following election violence
Kenyan police use water cannon to disperse a march by Kibera slum residents, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons Thursday to beat back surging crowds of rock-throwing opposition protesters who took to the streets for a rally many feared would deepen the crisis wracking what had been one of Africa's most stable country's. - photo by Associated Press
    WASHINGTON — The top U.S. diplomat for Africa is being dispatched to Kenya to directly press leaders to calm violence that has followed allegations of fraud in President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election, the State Department said Thursday.
    Jendayi Frazer, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, planned to leave later Thursday for talks with Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
    Frazer would not serve as a mediator, McCormack said, but would try to encourage the leaders to get together and work toward a political solution. It was not clear how long Frazer would be in Kenya.
    The diplomatic mission comes as the country’s political dispute degenerates into ethnic violence pitting Kibaki’s influential Kikuyus against Odinga’s Luos and other tribes. About 300 people have been killed and 100,000 more displaced.
    Also Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Kibaki in a phone call to work for a peaceful resolution to the violence.
    Rice also spoke by phone with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana about Kenya. But the State Department disputed the EU’s characterization of the Rice-Solana conversation.
    McCormack said that while the pair had agreed on the need for political reconciliation between Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, neither had specifically endorsed the formation of a coalition or a government of national unity.
    ‘‘We’re not going to be prescriptive here,’’ McCormack told reporters. ‘‘They do need to come together; they need to broker some political solution to the political crisis. They need to find a political solution; what that political solution is, (that) is going to be up to them.’’
    ‘‘Fundamentally, this needs to be a ’made-in-Kenya’ solution,’’ he said. ‘‘A government of national unity, the secretary didn’t use those words.’’
    Rice spoke with Odinga on Wednesday.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter