Annan heads Africa Union’s peace panel to Kenya


Nairobi : Former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is expected here Tuesday to explore ways of resolving the post-poll violence in Kenya that has claimed some 700 lives, displaced thousands and destabilised east Africa’s biggest economy.

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The former UN chief has accepted an invitation to lead an Afrian Union (AU) panel engaged in Kenya to broker peace. Ghana’s President John Kufuor has sent the invitation to Annan in his capacity as the current chairman of the AU, BuaNews agency reported Monday.

The other two members on the panel are Gracia Machel, the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela, and Benjamin Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania.

The panel will try to broker a truce between Kenya’s incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement. Annan’s decision to take on the task came as the AU chairman Kufuor failed to get the duo to meet face to face last week.

At a meeting with Kufuor in Accra, Ghana, Annan appealed to the feuding sides not to take any more steps that would compromise the search for peace.

He urged Kenyan politicians not to create problems that would make it difficult for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities to find a viable and lasting solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, both the government and the opposition in Kenya have welcomed the mediation of the panel led by Annan.