Kipsigis battle Kisiis in Western Kenya

Yesterday Channel 4 aired this footage of Kipsigis in Western Kenya preparing for battle with the Kisii people. The Kipsigi are a sub-group of the Kalenjins. A spokesmen for the Kipsigis told Channel 4 that the International Community should send troups to contain the violence as Kenya’s government can do nothing to stop it now. They said that the fighting started because of the rigged election and now they are angry because of the killing of two Orange Democratic Movement Mps in the past week (see here and here) which have been described as political assassinations.

Today there are reports of Kisiis having fled their homes. The fighting happened in Nyamira district, in the Kisii-Kalenjin tribal border in western Kenya. The death toll brings to 70 the number of those killed since Friday. Channel 4 visited a hospital at Sotik and saw Kisii victims of the violence who explained that that they are being killed because they are seen to have voted for Mwai Kibaki. They are angry with the government for not protecting them.

Pambazuka editor Mukoma wa Ngugi writes that what we are witnessing now is a vicious cycle of ethnic cleansing and counter-ethnic cleansing:

The myth that the violence is a spontaneous reaction to the rigged elections of Dec. 27 has to be debunked because its persistence only gives cover to the perpetrators on both sides.

True, there is strong evidence that President Mwai Kibaki engaged in widespread voter fraud to declare victory, and that he has illegitimately held on to power.

Kibaki has also used a police force that from British colonialism to the present has kept peace at the expense of the people. That police force is racking up a significant body count, now estimated to be in the hundreds.

But it is also true that the opposition, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), led by Raila Odinga, wears a democratic face to mask violent practices. Human Rights Watch says that it has “evidence that ODM politicians and local leaders actively fomented some post-election violence.”

The opposition leadership consists of three parts: the activist-intellectual left, the reactionary followers of former dictator Daniel arap Moi and the populists.

The intellectuals speak a language that the international media understands – and that anti-establishment friends of Africa like to hear. It is this group that has marketed the ODM as a people-power movement, in the process glossing over the ethnic killings by its own side.

To their credit, the intellectual activists favor boycotts, smart sanctions, and peaceful civil disobedience. But they did not adhere to these principles, bending instead to the Moi-ists within ODM, who engaged in ethnic violence in 1992 and 1997 and are at it again.

Their reprehensible tactics have cost the Orange Democratic Movement a lot of political mileage. Now instead of demanding Odinga’s right to the disputed presidency, the opposition has been forced to lower its sights and to urge Odinga and Kibaki to come to a negotiated solution.

For his part, Odinga, the leader of the populist camp, seems to want to draw violence from the state because the consequent anger unites the people and earns his party some political leverage.


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