by Christi Parsons
Amid a brutal cycle of killings in Kenya, Barack Obama late last night appealed to Kenyans to renounce violence and “follow a path of peace.”
In a radio address to his father’s home country, the Democratic presidential candidate said that the post-election violence there bears “no resemblance to the Kenya I know and carry with me.”
“The rule of law and the rights of the Kenyan people, including freedom of the media and the freedom of peaceful assembly, must be restored,” Obama said in his address. “The opposition must turn away from the path of mass protest and violence in seeking participation in government.”
Obama said President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga should sit down and talk “unconditionally,” and he urged them to “welcome the assistance if your concerned friends.”
His address comes as the death toll from the last five days of fighting rose to 85 in western Kenya, as gangs of machete-wielding young men from Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe hunted down and killed people from Odinga's Luo tribe. The murders were reported to be revenge killings for violence against Kikuyus.
Aides to Obama said he gave the statement after consulting with U.S. Ambassador Mike Rannenberger, at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. The address was broadcast live during the morning commute in Kenya on Capital FM Radio in Nairobi.