Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:14 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Meg Munn Meg Munn Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 1:14 pm, 17th January 2008

My hon. Friend makes an important point, and I can give him the assurance that we are working very closely with the Department for International Development on precisely those issues.

As I was saying, as well as the displaced persons, the National Association of Churches in Kenya estimates that two thirds of slum dwellers in Nairobi, more than 2 million people, have been negatively affected by the violence and the continuing instability. That includes those who have lost family members, their homes or their livelihoods. The splits in Kenyan society are deepening. We condemn without reservation all acts of violence; those acts of violence that have an ethnic motivation are especially disturbing given the risk that they run of escalating tension. It is incumbent on all to respect the legal framework and human rights, whether those rights apply to media freedom, including live broadcasts, or to peaceful assembly.

Yesterday the world was shocked to witness on its television screens unarmed protestors being shot by Kenyan security forces. A process of national reconciliation is desperately needed to start to heal the wounds that have been inflicted by the disputed elections and the violence that has followed.

Furthermore, while the crisis continues, Kenya's economy will suffer. We do not want that: we want Kenya to grow. But continued political uncertainty means continued uncertainty for the business community and a decline in tourism and investment. That will impact most sharply on Kenyan workers.

We fully support President Kufuor's mission to Kenya, on behalf of the African Union, which succeeded in gaining agreement from both Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga that there should be an end to violence and that there should be dialogue. They also agreed that they would work with a panel of eminent Africans towards resolving their differences and all other outstanding issues, including constitutional and electoral reforms.

We are pleased that former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed to head the panel, and that Graca Machel and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa also agreed to take part.

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