Annan wants more action to curb Kenya violence before March vote


* Riots, tribal fighting intensify fears over March vote

* Annan mediated an end to election violence five years ago

* Political allegiances based on tribal ties not ideology

* Two presidential hopefuls face ICC over 2007 poll violence

By James Macharia

NAIROBI, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Former U.N. chief Kofi Annansaid on Thursday he wants more done to stem rising violence inKenya before a March 4 election to prevent a repetition of thebloodshed that followed the last vote five years ago.

Kenya's many faultlines include the tribal profile of itspolitical parties, militias fighting over land and threats ofdisruption to the vote by a separatist group that wants Kenya'scoastal strip to secede.

Deadly riots in the port city of Mombasa and tribal fightingon the northern coast last month have raised fears that theelection in east Africa's biggest economy will be marred againby violence and electoral abuses.

Nearly a quarter of Kenyans expect violence around thepresidential vote in March, a Gallup opinion poll showed,raising fears of unrest similar to that in 2007/8 when more than1,200 people were killed.

"When we have violence preceding elections, given thehistory of the country, it should be worrying for all of us.Measures should be taken to stem the violence," said Annan, whomediated between the warring factions last time.

His mediation brought together Mwai Kibaki, an ethnicKikuyu, as president, and Luo tribe member Raila Odinga as primeminister, and fighting erupted after Odinga accused Kibaki ofstealing his victory in the December 2007 poll.

Annan was speaking on Thursday at a news conference at theend of a visit to review Kenya's readiness to hold elections.

He urged the country to hasten plans to reform its securitysector and police force and warned politicians against incitingtribal hatred in a country where elections have traditionallybeen flashpoints of unrest.

Heightening tensions, two cabinet ministers were chargedover inciting the violence in September, and two leadingpresidential hopefuls have been indicted by the InternationalCriminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in the bloodshed.

Former cabinet ministers, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto goon trial at the Hague-based court in April, a month after thepresidential election.

There are concerns they will not honour their summons, butKenyatta and Ruto have repeatedly said that they would do so.

There are also fears the country could face a politicalbacklash or economic sanctions from the West should they disobeythe ICC summons.

Rights groups have also asked the Kenyan High Court to stopthem from running for the presidency on the grounds that the ICCcharges should make them ineligible for public office.

(Editing by Louise Ireland)

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