January 31st, 2008 08:00 EST
Kenyan leaders urged by UN to end crisis
31 January 2008
In a statement, the Security Council deplored the violence that has killed more than 800 people over the past month, displaced thousands more and caused a growing humanitarian crisis.
The council also expressed concern for the safety of the 5,000 U.N. personnel working in Kenya, and agreed to a request from Kenya's foreign minister for him to come to New York to address the council as soon as possible.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador, John Sawers, says international concern is steadily growing as the violence continues unabated. "We all know what has happened before when such violence gets out of control. So we need to nip it in the bud with these mediation efforts led by Kofi Annan," he said.
The former U.N. Secretary-General is in Kenya trying to mediate talks between the two main political rivals - President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Mr. Annan has said he is confident the immediate political issues could be resolved within a month, and that broader issues could be solved within a year.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe briefed the 15-member council on conditions in Kenya, and told reporters afterward that it is very important to have a political settlement before the situation deteriorates much further. "In the last 20 years we've seen enough of this that the last thing in the world is you want a deterioration of law and order because at that point the people that take over are the people in the streets and the parts of society who think they have great grievances to resolve. And that's what we are afraid of, and that's why it needs to be stopped now and not to go on," he said.
U.N. officials would not confirm reports that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to travel to Kenya on Thursday after he leaves the African Union summit in Ethiopia.