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State Secretary for European Affairs Janez Lenarčič: Statement by the EU Council on the situation in Kenya at the plenary session of the European Parliament

Mr President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I am pleased that today the European Parliament will discuss the resolution on the current situation in Kenya and vote on it. By appointing Mr Lambsdorff to head the EU Election Observation Mission and a delegation of the EP under the leadership of Mr Mulder, the Parliament has already given an important signal of its interest in the situation in Kenya.

Elections in Kenya took place on 27 December. The very high participation of the Kenyans demonstrated their commitment to and their trust in the democratic process.

The EU Election Observation Mission, present on the ground and led by distinguished member of this house, Mr Lambsdorff, noted irregularities in the counting and tallying process of the presidential election. These irregularities cast serious doubts on the actual outcome of that election.

As you know, violence erupted in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya when the election results were announced. Supporters of opposition leader Odinga have repeatedly clashed with security forces, and also attacked supporters of President Kibaki. The security forces have fired against crowds, and made use of "disproportionate violence" – in the words of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam Louise Arbour.

At least 600 people have lost their lives and 250 000 persons have been displaced – in Kenya, the country that is used to harbouring refugees from Somalia and South Sudan. The economy is also affected, not only in Kenya, but also in the neighbouring landlocked countries.

This is a tragedy and, at the same time, a serious blow to the democratisation process in the whole of Africa, where Kenya was a model.

The EU has condemned the acts of violence in Kenya. We have called on the political leaders in Kenya to address the concerns about the integrity of the election process and to resort to dialogue and find a political solution. We have also, of course, responded to the humanitarian needs of the Kenyan people.

The EU has welcomed the mediation by the President of the African Union, President Kufuor of Ghana. We have also encouraged other efforts by our African partners to resolve the situation, among them a group of prominent African personalities chaired by Mr Kofi Annan. He is expected to arrive to Nairobi shortly.

In the meantime, President Kibaki has formed a government without consulting opposition leader Raila Odinga. The latter called for mass protests which should last three days and start today.

A more positive signal is the first session of the Kenyan parliament that took place yesterday. The president of the opposition ODM was appointed president of the parliament. The news is encouraging in the sense that at least some democratic principles are still respected in Kenya. Thus, the opposition has got its voice in the state institutions.

From the Union's point of view it is clear that a long-term political compromise has to be reached which would reflect the will of the Kenyan people, regain their trust and restore the stability in Kenya.

On behalf of the EU, I can say that the aftermath of the elections in Kenya has been very disturbing. This, however, is nothing in comparison to the disappointment that must be felt by the people of Kenya, who turned out massively for the elections in the hope of a better future.

Thank you.


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Date: 17.01.2008