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MCC supports peacemakers working to end Kenya's political violence

Tim Shenk
January 4, 2008

AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is supporting a Kenyan organization that is working to bring a peaceful end to post-election violence in the country.

Hundreds of Kenyans have died in widespread violence following national elections on Dec. 27, according to news reports. Tensions continue as the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, claims a narrow victory in the presidential election, and the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, alleges voting fraud.

Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa, an MCC partner organization, is seeking to mediate among the rival political parties, according to George Wachira, a senior research and policy adviser.

Wachira said that Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa is working with Kenyan mediators to urge the conflicting parties to resolve their differences peacefully. Recently, Wachira and his colleagues gave an appeal for peace on Kenyan television.

"We have formed what we call 'Concerned Citizens for Peace,'" Wachira said.

Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa is an international peace-building organization that has mediated conflicts in Sudan, Liberia and other African countries. An MCC worker, Harold Miller, helped to form the organization in 1984 under the earlier name of Nairobi Peace Group. MCC gave Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa a grant of $27,750 in 2007.

Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa worked with Kenyan organizations, government officials and religious groups to promote peace in the months before the elections, according to Wachira. As part of this effort, Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa persuaded Kibaki, Odinga and other candidates to sign a commitment to holding peaceful elections.

The campaigning and voting were largely peaceful, Wachira said. However, the conflicts over election results and fraud allegations could grow even more serious in the coming days.

"We are hopeful but at the same time still very worried," Wachira said.

No MCC staff members were harmed in the recent violence, according to Catherine Bowman, an MCC Kenya representative.