What can be done?


From this angle I can not tell whether this woman is a Luo or a Kikuyu. What I do know is that she is a Kenyan.

Kenya’s military have been deployed to Nakuru and have fired on marauding groups of youths who have been setting fire to homes. In Naivasha, sixteen people were killed in a small two-roomed house where they had taken shelter. Most them women and children. One woman running away from the scene screamed, “They set it on fire, they are killing my brother and sister.”

The violence has continued despite Kibaki and Odinga agreeing to talk. It’s going to take more than an hand-shake to resolve the situation. The electoral crisis is no longer driving events which now center on horrifying revenge attacks directed at the Luo community in what were once quiet, cosmopolitan tourist towns. What can be done?

Who can trust Kibaki or Odinga to heal these wounds when both blame each other for the violence? For each sees the chaos as a propaganda vehicle. Kenya needs fresh faces to form a platform on which the constitutional crisis can be addressed and the long hard work of repairing the country’s damaged institutions can begin. For too long the country has been run as the personal fiefdom of the elite. An equitable redistribution of land and resources must also be carried out; ethnic divisions would never erupt in a country in which all people felt they held a stake. Edit: On reflection, achieving such equity through redistribution is complicated and difficult. Focusing on economic growth and greater inclusion through extending employment opportunities is an urgent task. It is not going to happen. The global economy has been stitched up, Kenyan workers are similarly stitched up.

Odinga could use the platform he has been given by the media to address these issues instead of harping on about the elections. What good are fresh elections now when people are dying? Kibaki might have shown himself to be singularly out of touch with what is happening but that should not prevent Odinga from taking the lead. Odinga might look more like a statesman if he were to spell out how these horrible wounds can be healed, instead of playing the blame-game and nursing his own hurt ego.

Ninety people in all were killed over the weekend as the epicentre of violence shifted to Naivasha and Nakuru. In Nakuru, witnesses identified Mungiki sect members who they said were armed with guns and wore police uniforms.

In yesterday’s incident only comparable to that visited on victims sheltering at an Eldoret Church early this month, charred remains of the 16 victims were crammed in a small, two-room house, where – according to witnesses – they had locked themselves up to escape the wrath of bloodthirsty youths.

“When the attacks started, youths burnt the house, trapping them inside,” a resident said.

Another four were hacked to death as they fled from the marauding gangs targeting members of one community.

Others were killed and lynched after being fished out of public service vehicles on account of their tribe.

Policemen watched the unfolding chaos helplessly as Nairobi was temporarily cut-off from western Kenya.

Independent reports put the death toll in Naivasha at more than 20, but police confirmed only 10. The number could be higher as several people were reported missing.

In Nakuru, the death toll hit 60, with the number expected to rise as rival groups continued to clash. Witnesses said some of the attackers, believed to be members of the proscribed Mungiki sect, were armed with guns and wore police uniforms.

Fifty-five bodies are lying at the Nakuru Municipal Mortuary with five more yet to be collected from the town’s estates. The mortuary, with a capacity of 42, was stretched to the limit as bodies streamed in.

The number of those injured continued to rise and by yesterday evening, more than 100 victims were admitted to the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital nursing arrow, cuts and bullet wounds.

Burning of houses continued in various estates as hundreds continued to flee their homes. Police and military officers patrolled the town and suburbs as the violence entered its third day yesterday.

Unconfirmed reports said a military chopper patrolling the town fired gunshots at Kwa Rhonda and Ng’ambo estates to scare away marauding youths torching houses.

However, Nakuru deputy OCPD, Mr Mathew Gwiyo, said military officers fired shots in Bahati of Nakuru North District to disperse youths armed with pangas, bows and arrows who were torching houses.

“The military choppers are assisting police with aerial surveillance and intervened when the situation got out of hand,” he said.

At Sewage Estate, police had a hard time controlling two armed groups from rival communities and had to fire several times in the air to disperse them.

Armed with pangas and other weapons, they mounted death traps at illegal roadblocks on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, where they flushed out passengers from communities other than their own and lynched them.

During the skirmishes, a prison warder accidentally shot his colleague, part of a team sent to quell the violence. Houses were torched and property worth millions of shillings looted during the chaos that turned Naivasha town into a no-go zone.

William Ruto addressed Eldoret residents and called for peace, “I am appealing to our people to stop fighting each other. We know those who organised to manipulate the elections and have put us in this mess.”

In Kisumu today, young men blocked roads out of the town with burning tires and rocks.

“Kikuyus must go!” “No Raila, no peace!” they yelled, referring to the tribe of Kibaki, and to his chief rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga. Members of Odinga’s Luo tribe are among those challenging the official election results, and in Kisumu some of them took out their rage on Kikuyus, including the bus driver who was burned to death.

“The road is covered in blood. It’s chaos. Luos are hunting Kikuyus for revenge,” said Baraka Karama, a journalist for state broadcaster Kenya Television.


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