Ethnic cleansing

ADDIS ABABA - There is clear evidence of "ethnic cleansing" in Kenya's Rift Valley since the disputed December 27 election, but it does not amount to genocide, a top US diplomat for Africa said yesterday.

ADDIS ABABA - There is clear evidence of "ethnic cleansing" in Kenya's Rift Valley since the disputed December 27 election, but it does not amount to genocide, a top US diplomat for Africa said yesterday.

"There has been an organised effort to push out people from Rift Valley . It is clearly ethnic cleansing. I don't consider it genocide," US assistant secretary for African affairs Jendayi Frazer said.

"The cycle of retaliation has gone too far and has become more dangerous."

Kenya's sudden slide into chaos, with more than 850 people killed mostly in ethnic violence, has horrified world powers, damaged the region's most promising economy and shattered its image as a stable trade and tourism hub.

Frazer said the US wanted an investigation into the violence, including the killing of civilians by police, and that the guilty parties must be held accountable. She called on Kenyan leaders to avoid inflammatory rhetoric.

The US backs mediation between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition challenger Raila Odingabeing to be led by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Formal mediation started on Tuesday.

Annan said he was confident that the "immediate political issues" could be resolved within four weeks and the broader issues underlying the crisis within a year. - Reuters

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