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Kenya to host peace conference

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 8 – Kenya is set to host an international conference next month to promote peace in the country after the sharp differences that arose following the post election crisis last year.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday said the conference to be held between February 2 and 4 would offer a platform to discuss the issues that have kept Kenya on the edge and how to deal with them.

"We want to sit down as a nation and discuss tribalism or negative ethnicity as a problem," the Premier said.

He added: "The intention will be to create strategies of promoting national unity out of the diverse ethnic groups that make what we call Kenya."

Addressing a news conference at his Treasury office, he said there would be about 2,000 participants with top dignitaries who have mediated over nations that have experienced political turmoil before scheduled to attend.

Among them are Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, Joaquim Chisano of Mozambique, former South African first lady Graca Machel, former Malysian Premier Dr Mahathir bin Mohammed and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan among others.

The former UN Secretary General was the chief mediator in the Kenyan peace process after a disputed Presidential election in December 2007 that left over 1,500 people dead and 350,000 others internally displaced. The peace process led to the formation of a coalition government in February last year.

The PM said the recommendations from the conference dubbed ‘One Kenya, One Dream: The Kenya We Want’ would be used to strengthen ongoing efforts in national reconciliation under the Grand Coalition government.

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"The Kenya that our forefathers and the founding fathers of our nation said they wanted coined in our national anthem – the Kenyan dream and that is what we want to commit ourselves to realise as one people, one nation, one Kenya, one dream."

He said that the conference would move away from looking at the past and instead would focus on the future in terms of where the country wanted to go.

"We need to take a look at where we want to go… whether we are on the right path or whether there is a path in the first place," the PM said.

The Premier also launched an interactive website for the conference where Kenyans could give their views and opinion prior to the meeting.


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