Topical debates — Kenya

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 1:27 pm on 17th January 2008.

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Photo of Keith Simpson Keith Simpson Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 1:27 pm, 17th January 2008

This is the first time that I have participated in one of the new topical debates. I suppose it is the parliamentary version of speed dating, in which speakers have to make an impact straight away.

I welcome the opportunity to evaluate the efforts that have been made so far to restore calm in Kenya since the crisis erupted more than three weeks ago. The initial outbreak of widespread violence and displacement has lessened, although, of course, confrontations are still going on between protestors and the Kenyan security forces. As the Minister said, some 250,000 people remain displaced and at serious risk of violence, intimidation, hunger and disease. Increasingly, there are worrying signs of tribal and ethnic divisions. The crisis has not been resolved, and although we hope that a compromise will be reached between the two main political contenders, there is a danger that the situation could get much worse.

In the short time that I have been allocated, I want to put a series of questions to the Minister. She might not be able to cover them all when she winds up the debate, but if that is the case, perhaps she will take the opportunity to write to me later.

It is still far from clear what happened during the contested elections. Does the Minister agree that the publication of a full report by the EU monitoring mission would be helpful? Is such a report being prepared and when might it be published? Is there any evidence that the initial violence following the election, which was initiated by Mr. Odinga's supporters, was premeditated rather than spontaneous? I do not ask that question lightly, but some friends in Kenya have told me that there is a strong feeling in the country that the violence was more premeditated than spontaneous.

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