251 dead – mayhem and confusion continue

The Ministry of Internal Security is sending SMS messages urging Kenyans to stop sending SMS texts that might lead to unrest in the country and which will also lead to prosecution as they are illegal! Live broadcasts are also still banned. Dreadful news that people have been decapitated and heads can be seen in the environs of Eldoret! Judging by the mood over the past few days these heads can only belong to Kikuyus! God help us!

News is that Kenya Pundit is back up. Ory says that she is setting up a mirror site to handle the traffic so it seems it was a traffic issue as the site has been receiving a lot of traffic and not because she was being targeted for shut down. Good luck to her and great to see her back up.

Food supplies are running very very low now and there is a shortage of fuel in Nairobi. Kenyan Pundit reports shortages in Nairobi – no meat is to be found in Nairobi anywhere and she reports that people are getting meat from Athi River. Alongside this cash machines running out – and the price of cell phone credit is rising. Kumekucha also reports that food, water and electricity supplies have been cut off to Kibera – government forces must be reading up on how to incite an uprising. These are the poorest people, what do they have to lose now?

Sadly, Ory Okolloh reports that a fault line is becoming very visible in social relations among people in Nairobi. Those who are pro Kibaki or pro Odinga are becoming hostile and intolerant of the other side. This was quite obvious on Kumekucha’s site over the past 48 hours a mood of hostility could be detected very easily among commentators there and it’s a sad day when Kenyans have to report this is taking place in a country known for the people’s charm and hospitality.

Let’s hope this can be repaired in the oncoming days as people come to understand that this is a political issue resulting from the failure of the ECK to run a fair election and the only way to handle it is to firstly spell out what went wrong and then decide how to fix it. Nobody could ever have predicted that Kenya would witness such scenes.

The disappointment and sense of democracy betrayed is evident in all communications. People have taken sides and I can honestly say I have never seen such bitterness and hostility before. To think that it took just 15 minutes for these polarities to break through to the surface from the moment Samuel Kivuite declared Kibaki the president! Unbelievable.

The international press is reporting that Kenyans in certain provinces have left their homes and camp by the roadside or outside police stations in the hope that this will afford them some security in a country that is falling apart at the seams. Kikuyus are seeking shelter in churches around the country but they are not safe even here, Associated Press reports that at least 15 were burnt to death inside one last night.

“There was a huge mob, they attacked the church,” said the witness in Eldoret, some 185 miles from the capital, Nairobi. “We counted 15 to 20 bodies.”

A senior police official said on condition of anonymity that “One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described as ethnic cleansing.”

Never, never, never did I ever envisage such a dreadful state of affairs in Kenya’s fair land. I am fighting back the tears as I write this.

The Telegraph describes some of the horrifying violence. Kikuyus and Kalenjins are at war in Nakuru. It’s another sad day for Kenya. In Mombasa it is open season on PNU supporters with door to door searches being carried out to locate Kibaki sympathisers.

Divisions among the police with regard Shoot to Kill orders mean that any political will to hold the country together through force is evaporating. Kibera residents taunt the police to shoot at them and enter Kibera where local justice is sure to be meted out on them. Any response to this can only lead to further desensitization to authority.

The initial congratulatory tone of the US towards Kibaki’s victory is taking on a decidedly frosty air as concerns with the obvious voting irregularities are being increasingly mentioned. In what must be seen as an undiplomatic move the US withdraws its initial goodwill message to Kibaki and now says that it was directed at the people of Kenya! It does not bode well for Kibaki’s regime. Gordon Brown spent time talking to both Odinga and Kibaki yesterday and urged them to work together to sort out the split.

But Odinga has thrown down the gauntlet by insisting no talks will be held with Kibaki unless he resigns as president. Odinga has correctly stated that Kibaki’s government lacks legitimacy and refuses to endorse it by holding discussions. However a Peace Committee has been formed by the government in a bid to reach out to Odinga’s ODM party. The Nation reports that there are plans to fly Desmond Tutu into the country to help with the negotiations.

While these two are at a stand-off the country continues to burn. It’s high time that they put aside their own interests and talked and let the people see them talking. Addendum: WHERE IS KIBAKI? (We are beginning to see Odinga making statements in the international media but no sign of Kibaki!). Whatever the outcome of the attempts to bring the two sides together, it is clear that Kenya needs to undergo a period of social transformation in which the divisions now being seen can be addressed. Which of the two is fit for the job? I don’t think this is just about the transfer of power, however it is dressed up.

European Union election observers have stated categorically that there were flaws with the election process and are calling for an independent audit.

“General elections in the Republic of Kenya have fallen short of key international and regional standards for democratic elections,” it said in a statement.

“They were marred by a lack of transparency in the processing and tallying of presidential results, which raises concerns about the accuracy of the final results.”

Chief EU observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said: “We believe it is vital that an impartial investigation into the accuracy of the presidential results is conducted, and the results from all polling stations are published to enable an independent audit to be carried out.”

He said some of the EU observers had been denied access to the vote tallying centre in Nairobi and others were turned away from some polling stations.

The team also noted discrepancies between presidential votes given at the polling stations and those announced at the election panel in Nairobi.

Mr Lambsdorff said that it was now up to leaders of Kenya’s political parties to take responsibility for “keeping Kenya free from civil unrest”.

The EU Election Officials Final Preliminary Statement which casts serious doubts over the election results can be read here (pdf) .

It is also being reported that public rallies are banned and this does not augur well for Odinga’s planned mass action on 3rd January. This is not a time to clamp down on free speech and association but a time in which everyone should be encouraged to discuss where the country goes from here. Any moves to shut down public spaces or communication is going to lead nowhere. I for one want to hear what both Kibaki and Odinga think of the current situation and what they propose to do to mend things. The news blackout is not helping matters.

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