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 Annan: Kenya must prosecute militias for political violence

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PostSubject: Annan: Kenya must prosecute militias for political violence   Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:46 pm

Kenyan authorities should prosecute militias implicated in the country's devastating postelection violence, but also address any "genuine grievances" they may have, former U.N. leader Kofi Annan said Saturday.
Annan, speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, also said he was confident the power-sharing deal he brokered between President Mwai Kibaki and new Prime Minister Raila Odinga would hold. The deal includes a commitment to disband and demobilize Kenya's militias, many of which were blamed for the weeks of violence following December's disputed elections.
"The government should take effective measures not only to disband to them but eventually prosecute," Annan told the AP. "If one militia or two are allowed to stand, others will follow."
On Thursday, Odinga had called for talks with the notorious Mungiki gang, which held a four-day protest this week against alleged extrajudicial killings by police.
Fourteen people were killed during the protest. Public transportation in the eastern part of Nairobi and several other towns came to a halt as the gang threatened to behead minibus taxi operators who defied the protest call and went to work.
Meanwhile, the army has been hunting for members of a militia called the Sabaot Land Defense Force, which says it is fighting for land redistribution in the western Mt. Elgon region. The group has been linked to a string of kidnappings, murders and mutilations.
"If they have genuine grievances, one should look into them and see what one can do to address the grievance," said Annan, who returned to Kenya on Thursday to witness the swearing-in of Odinga and other coalition Cabinet members.
Annan helped broker the February agreement between Odinga and Kibaki to share power, ending weeks of violence that left more than 1,000 people dead and 300,000 displaced.
The two sides spent weeks after the initial agreement wrangling over Cabinet positions.
But Annan said he was confident the power-sharing deal would hold.
"For one it will be his legacy," said Annan, referring to Kibaki who is serving his second and final term as president. "For the other, it will determine his future."
"I think they have sufficient incentive and a sense of patriotism to press ahead with reconciliation, with the necessary reforms in order to give Kenya the institutions it needs to build on for the future," Annan said.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080420/ap_on_re_af/kenya_annan_1&printer=1;_ylt=AtDtw2Awkq.ie8Zm8XIcGW0V6w8F
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