Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Annan Tries To Make Amends

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is in Kenya, leading efforts to find a peaceful solution to the political crisis that's led to tribal violence in the country. He's stepped in to begin mediation between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, following the disputed results of last month's election. As well he might.

Mr Annan - the first African to lead the UN - has quite a debt to work off in this area. Many commentators in recent weeks have talked darkly about how the Kenya situation could turn into something similar to the crisis that ended in bloody genocide and the deaths of almost a million people in Rwanda 14 years ago. Back then, the head of UN peacekeeping in New York ignored repeated warnings from the Canadian general on the ground about how bad the situation was getting. The UN and the world then looked on aghast as the slaughter began. That senior UN official was none other than Kofi Annan, and rather than being punished for his gross negligence, he ended up getting the top job in the organisation. We all need him to do a better job this time.

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