Dire Prospect Of More Unrest In Kenya

An Orange Democratic Movement woman supporter cries as the poster behind her reads "No Curfews are Going to Deter Us." Others shout slogans against the government as they march to the city centre, Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008.
AP Photo/Sayyid Azim
Leaders of Kenya's primary opposition party have again called for mass protest rallies against the government of President Mwai Kibaki, whose contested reelection on Dec. 27 has sparked weeks of unrest.

Ethnic violence and widespread rioting - primarily by young men in the country's slums who support opposition leader Raila Odinga, has left at least 500 people dead and thousands displaced from their homes.

Previous opposition attempts to rally have been blocked by police firing tear gas, water cannons and live bullets over people's heads. Tony Gachoka, a party spokesman, said the party will "declare the resumption of mass protest against irregular presidential results."

Crime is on the increase and small-time thieves are taking advantange of the situation, reports CBS News reporter Katherine Arms.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has agreed to take over talks to end the deadly turmoil linked to Kenya's presidential election, after days of international pressure resulted in nothing more than a fresh round of accusations from both sides.

"Both sides agree that there should be an end to violence," said African Union chairman John Kufuor as he left Kenya on Thursday after his two days of mediation failed even to get Kibaki and Odinga to meet.

Annan will not arrive in Nairobi to take over the talks before Tuesday, his office in Geneva said. If his predecessor's experience was any indication, Annan will have a frustrating task before him, and the situation for Kenya's largely-impoverished 2.75 million inhabitants is more tenuous than ever.

Acknowledging the daunting task in front of the veteran diplomat, Salim Lone, a spokesman for Odinga, told Britain's Sky News Friday, "it is going to be very hard," to overcome the impasse.

Odinga's party and the president have been playing the blame game since the crisis began; with Kibaki insisting on Wednesday the election "is finished, and anybody who thinks they can turn it around should know that it's not possible and it will never be possible."

The president says complaints should be taken to the courts, which he has stacked with his allies during his five years in power.

Odinga's spokesman Lone told Sky their Orange Democratic Movement party had "gone two or three extra miles to show we are reasonable, we are flexible, even though we won the election. The whole world knows we won the election."

"Something has to give," added Lone.

Meanwhile, the U.S. announced Thursday that $5 million would be donated to help Kenyans made homeless by the post-election violence.

Tom Casey, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said the money from the U.S. Agency for International Development will go to nongovernmental organizations and other international agencies "to assist vulnerable and displaced Kenyans" with food, water, sanitation facilities and temporary shelter.

U.S. Ambassador Michael E. Ranneberger declared a disaster on Jan. 3, and USAID then provided $200,000.

The new outlay is "in keeping with the requests that have been made by Mike Ranneberger and our ongoing efforts to try and have the embassy and have the U.S. government assist Kenyans who might have been affected."

Kenya Red Cross Society and local partners started distributing food aid Thursday from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the Government of Kenya to tens of thousands of people in the Nairobi slums, Arms reported.

The sprawling, impoverished clusters of ramshackle huts around the East African nation's capital house thousands of the people hardest-hit by the post-election violence.

It was the first time WFP food was handed out in the slums in a general food distribution since the election - which international observers say was flawed - sparked the crisis, reports Arms.

The Kenyan government provided cereals to the Kenya Red Cross (KRC), while WFP contributed the beans, high energy biscuits, vegetable oil and corn-soya blend needed for a full food basket.

Food distribution started in the massive Kibera slum and by the end of Thursday was also scheduled to be completed in three other slums - Mathare, Dandora and Korogocho.

Five-hundred families, with an estimated six people to each, were supposed to receive a one-week ration of food at 12 sites. But the turnout of needy was so great it appeared that many people would receive smaller amounts of food than planned.

Some of the largest slums in Africa are in Nairobi, and they are a priority for food aid agencies because most slum dwellers rely on day-labor for income and were unable to work from just before the Christmas season, due to the holidays, and then unrest occurred, says Arms. What little food was on sale quickly became too expensive for the poorest.

Of Nairobi's 2.75 million people, almost 60 percent live in the slums. Even in normal times, almost two-thirds of the people in the slums struggle to survive on less than $1 a day. Crime and violence were already rife in the slums and it's only grown worse since Dec. 27.