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Ways to end Kenya's killings

Kofi Annan got Kenya's two rivals to agree to talks. Next they must help end the killing.

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The world saw a ray of light this week that may help Kenya avoid a violent abyss. Mediator Kofi Annan got the two political rivals in this tragedy to sign onto negotiations. But much more is needed to halt ethnic cleansing in this latest African trouble spot.

After the initial eruption of violence brought on by a disputed Dec. 27 election, killings abated. But they surged again in recent days with brutal tribal clashes in Kenya's scenic Rift Valley, the assassination of an opposition member of parliament, killings of several foreigners, and more melees in Nairobi slums.

The police, according to news reports, are either overwhelmed or part of the problem, siding with President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

The government has mostly hesitated to deploy the military, reportedly because many of its members favor the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, of the Luo tribe. Mr. Odinga says the election that returned Mr. Kibaki to power was rigged and he must go.

In the absence of reliable security forces, more than 850 Kenyans have been killed, and more than 250,000 have been displaced. America's top envoy for Africa this week described the Rift Valley killings as "ethnic cleansing" against Kikuyus, and Rwanda's president said Kenya should bring in the Army to prevent further escalation. Indeed, many in Kenya now fear civil war.


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