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Annan advocates truth commission for Kenya, urges UN to probe rights abuses

[JURIST] Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] Monday called for Kenya [JURIST news archive] to establish a truth and reconciliation commission in hopes of soothing underlying social and ethnic pressures that erupted into violence in the wake of January's disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. Annan is currently in the country to help mediate the conflict between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile] and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile] in an effort to curb the violence. Annan also suggested Monday that UN investigators should be tasked with investigating alleged human rights abuses that have occurred in the country. South Africa [South Africa TRC website] and Liberia [Liberia TRC website; JURIST report] have previously established truth commissions to head investigations of violence in their respective countries. BBC News has more.

Kenya's controversial presidential vote has sparked simmering ethnic tensions in the country, where Kibaki has long been accused of using his position to favor members of the Kikuyu tribe. Fueling accusations of malfeasance, Kibaki won the December 27 election despite early opinion polls that placed rival candidate Odinga in the lead. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets following the election, which prompted the government to temporarily ban public rallies and institute a curfew in Nairobi, the capital city. In all, almost 1,000 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced since protests began. Thirteen nations, including several European Union members and the United States, have threatened to cut off aid [JURIST report] to Kenya's government until the crisis is resolved and democracy is restored. Odinga's opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement [party website] filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] on January 22 with the International Criminal Court [official website], alleging that Kibaki's administration has committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. The Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights [official site] launched an official investigation [KNCHR brief; Standard report] into the alleged human rights violations on January 26.

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