Archive for the 'A Political Mugging' Category

State Sanctioned Kenyan Clashes

The BBC has learnt of allegations of state-sanctioned violence in Kenya during the turmoil that followed last December’s disputed presidential poll.

Watch video here

Sources allege that meetings were hosted at the official residence of the president between the banned Mungiki militia and senior government figures.

The aim was to hire them as a defence force in the Rift Valley to protect the president’s Kikuyu community.

The government denied the allegations, calling them “preposterous”.

“No such meetings took place at State House or any government office,” the government said in a statement posted on its website.

Such “unfounded lies” are “injurious to the president, government and the people of Kenya”, the statement said.

We were ordered not to stop the vehicles to allow them to go -Rift Valley policeman

The allegations come as parliament is due to open on Thursday preparing the way for a new coalition government.

Although parliament’s focus will be on healing ethnic divisions and creating a coalition government – allegations of state involvement with a banned Kikuyu militia, known as Mungiki, will not go ignored, the BBC’s Karen Allen in Nairobi says.

She says there is of growing suspicion that some of the violence that led to 1,500 people being killed and hundreds of thousands displaced was orchestrated by both sides of the political divide.

Gangs with machetes

The BBC source, who is a member of the Kikuyu tribe and who is now in hiding after receiving death threats, alleged: “Three members of the gang met at State House… and after the elections and the violence the militias were called again and they were given a duty to defend the Kikuyu in Rift Valley and we know they were there in numbers.”

Groups of Kikuyu groups roam the streets of a neighbourhood of Naivasha as fires burn
Non-Kikuyu homes in Naivasha were ransacked and set alight

On the weekend of 25 January, the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and then Naivasha were the focus of the some of the worst post-election violence.

Eyewitnesses spoke of non-Kikuyu homes being marked, then gangs with machetes – who they claim were Mungiki – attacked people who were from other ethnic groups.

Sources inside the Mungiki have told the BBC that it was a renegade branch of the outfit that was responsible for violence, not them.

A policeman who was on duty at the time, who has spoken to the BBC on condition of anonymity, has also pointed to clear signs of state complicity.

He alleges that in the hours before the violence in Nakuru, police officers had orders not to stop a convoy of minibus taxis, called “matatus”, packed with men when they arrived at police checkpoints.

“When we were there… I saw about 12 of them [matatus] packed with men,” he said.

“There were no females… I could see they were armed.

“We were ordered not to stop the vehicles to allow them to go.”

The current and previous minister for internal security have both been invited to respond to the allegations. So far they have declined to do so.

The allegations come at a time of growing concern that there was pre-planned violence on both sides of the political fence, in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed election result.

The international crisis group has already raised such concerns and Human Rights Watch is expected to publish its report making similar claims shortly.

There are plans to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the coming weeks to examine claims of election violence.

The allegations are likely to be among the themes investigated by a commission created to address the issue of post-election skirmishes.

MUNGIKI SECT
Banned in 2002
Thought to be ethnic Kikuyu militants
Mungiki means multitude in Kikuyu
Inspired by the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s
Claim to have more than 1m followers
Promote female circumcision and oath-taking
Believed to be linked to high-profile politicians
Control public transport routes, demanding levies
Blamed for revenge murders in the central region

Maina Kiai warned that Mungiki were being activated by the government in January.

An earlier report by Kenyan Corruption and Warlords here.

Newsnight Video here – the Dr Alfred Mutua govt spokesman gets Paxmanned at 22.30 mins in. Mutua claims that the BBC report is fabricated and finds the allegations are shocking. He also says that people are not happy for Kenyans to have found a solution to the crisis and ends asking what the reason for the allegations are “…Is it racism?”

Dr Alfred Mutua’s response to BBC report

BBC STORY BASELESS AND MEANT TO INCITE KENYANS INTO VIOLENCE

The Government of Kenya has been shocked by a story appearing on the BBC that alledges that members of the banned group Mungiki held meetings at Statehouse, Nairobi, the Official Office of the President.

This story is preposterous, baseless and at best defamatory. No such meetings took place at Statehouse or any Government Office. It is injurious to the President, Government and the People of Kenya for BBC to run such unfounded lies. What credible sources do the BBC have and what is the motivation of the BBC in running untruths and manufacturing such allegations? Why didn’t the BBC seek comment from the Government of Kenya before airing the story? The Government of Kenya will write to demand an apology, a retraction and an inquiry into the motive of the producers of the story.

The Government of Kenya takes great exception to the story, which is coming days after signing of a peace agreement, and can only conclude that the producers of the story are trying to dent the hopes of Kenyans and incite Kenyans into violence.

Kenyans should not believe the dangerous lies on the BBC story and should nurture the peace we enjoy with the knowledge that not everyone is happy that we are a stable country and that an African solution to the Kenyan crisis has been found.

The Mungiki sect is a criminal organization that has been banned by President Mwai Kibaki’s Government. Last year, the Government embarked on a special operation to wipe out the banned group and arrested its key leaders. The Government of Kenya has never worked or engaged banned criminal organizations for any work.

Dr. Alfred N. Mutua,
EBS PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS SECRETARY &
GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON

Advertisements

Odinga Dead in the Water

Interesting interview with Oxford University’s Professor David Anderson on Kenya’s political crisis and how ethnicity has been brought into the conflagration. You can read an earlier insightful interview he gave to Sara Nics when she was in London recently here.

This is political violence of the most classic kind. Ethnicity is how you mobilise it: that’s the modus operandi, not the rationale.

Political manipulation rather than ethnic hatred is driving Kenya’s post-election violence, says a leading author and scholar on the east African nation.

Oxford University’s Professor David Anderson also criticised both sides of Kenya’s political divide, saying President Mwai Kibaki was “playing Russian roulette” with Kenya’s democracy while opposition leader Raila Odinga was “dead in the water”.

Anderson — author of “Histories of the Hanged”, about the Mau Mau revolt during British colonial rule in the 1950s — said he was worried for the future of Kenya, where about 1,000 people have died in unrest following the Dec. 27 vote.

“I’ve always felt that Kenya’s middle classes and civil society were strong and robust, and would eventually overcome the problems created by their political elite,” he said.

“At the moment, I’m probably at the most pessimistic I have been in my entire life. I do not see an easy way forward.”

Anderson said the media’s portrayal of the Kenyan violence as inter-tribal fighting did not tell the whole story.

“Describing it as ethnic violence is not quite right. This is political violence of the most classic kind. Ethnicity is how you mobilise it: that’s the modus operandi, not the rationale.”

In the worst-hit Rift Valley area, where the majority of deaths have occurred, Kalenjin “ethno-nationalist” leaders had been waiting for an opportunity to reclaim land settled mainly by Kikuyus in the years after independence in 1963.

“Yes, they did organise it … They have had a long-standing agenda of violence. It is political instrumental violence of the worst kind,” Anderson said in the interview on Wednesday.

“If you map it, if you look at where it takes place, virtually every bit of violence has been on a settlement scheme … Quite deliberate, quite purposeful. You could argue that it has nothing whatsoever to do with the ballot. This might have happened even if (the opposition) ODM had won.”

“NO GOOD GUYS”

On the other side, one of the main motives for violence by Kibaki’s Kikuyu community against other groups — most notably in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru — was the Mungiki gang’s desire to preserve its grip on extortion rackets.

Supported by some high-level politicians, Mungiki took advantage of the situation — and the justification of revenge for killings of Kikuyus by Kalenjins and others — to kick out other communities whose own protection gangs opposed Mungiki’s grip on the local transport and retail businesses, he said.

“Mungiki run those rackets not against non-Kikuyu, but against Kikuyu. They prey upon their own people. So they seek to exclude non-Kikuyu from those areas so that they can ‘protect’ their own people,” he said, adding that the notoriously murderous gang had supporters and enemies in Kibaki’s cabinet.

“If this (violence) was rooted in deeply-ingrained racial and ethnic hatred, why is there not violence all over the country? It is happening in very specific places which, if you know Kenya well, you could pretty much predict.”

Anderson lamented that both Kibaki and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Odinga had put hardliners in their teams for negotiations over the disputed vote.

“Both sides decided to play hardball,” he said. “I don’t see that either side is willing to take the step towards the other.”

Kibaki hopes time will strengthen his position, he said.

“Mwai Kibaki has nothing to gain by negotiation. He can only be asked to roll back. So he and his advisers know that by sitting tight, hunkering down and hoping all of this will eventually go away, they win,” Anderson said.

“They are playing Russian roulette with Kenya’s democracy. They don’t give a damn. They just want to win.”

On the other side, Odinga’s ODM had been “supremely and idiotically naive” to think they could run a civil disobedience campaign without it leading to violence, he said.

And Odinga’s poor judgement plus lack of gravitas in handling the crisis had shattered his would-be image as a pan-African statesman able to carry Kenya forward, he said.

“I think he’s dead in the water,” Anderson said.

“One of the problems for the international media analysing the Kenyan situation is that there are no ‘goodies’, there is no one you can say wears the white hat.”

Kenya’s Tin Man

Vigilante Journalist

Photo: The Vigilante Journalist


Observing Mwai Kibaki in Addis Ababa during the African Union Heads of State summit meeting I was reminded of the Wizard of Oz’s Tin Man. Every time Kibaki moves I hear the horrible sound of metal grinding on rusting metal, when he speaks he sounds corrosive.

If you recall, the Tin Man explains to Dorothy that a wicked witch placed a curse on his axe. With every swing of the enchanted axe he managed to chop off a piece of his body. A tinsmith refashioned each part with artificial limbs of tin until at last his entire body had been replaced by tin but alas the tinsmith forgot to provide him with a heart. It is a fitting metaphor for Kibaki’s legacy which will always be associated with the images of youths taking machetes to one another, throughout which he has shown himself to be bereft of a heart and incapable of feeling the pain or connecting with the trauma that Kenyans are undergoing. But like the Straw Man he might also need a brain.

Kibaki in need of a heart and a brain

Kibaki needs fixing

Attending the AU summit gave Kibaki an opportunity to stand before African leaders creaking as “the duly elected leader of Kenya” and to stubbornly claim that his re-election represents the “will of the majority” of Kenyans, a position rejected by ODM and the reason for Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts. How can he continue to insist on saying this when Electoral Commission of Kenya’s chairman, Samuel Kivuite, declared that he is not sure who won the election?

He was quick to take a swipe at Raila Odinga, head of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement accusing him of genocide and blaming him for the violence that is sweeping through the country, saying “the ongoing crisis erupted after the opposition … went ahead to instigate a campaign of civil unrest and violence. There is overwhelming evidence to indicate that the violence was premeditated, and systematically directed at particular communities (ethnic groups).”

Somebody ought to remind him that ODM did not start the fire. Kibaki lit a match and set fire to the ballot box on December 30th while subsequently extinguishing the hopes of many disenfranchised Kenyans. Is it clearer now what Kibaki’s game is?

He has simply allowed the violence and bloodshed to reach fever pitch and blamed the ODM for it. Odinga is hostage to this strategy. As long as Kibaki refuses to meet Odinga and talk seriously about where the country goes from here and while he also continues to exhibit his characteristic lack of humility he will continue to fan the flames of the fires searing Kenya. Odinga can do little to put those flames out now. Kibaki is increasingly portrayed as the lesser of two evils in the eyes of the International Community.

Kibaki has kept very quiet throughout The Terror nor has he dared to leave State House while people have been slaughtered and burnt. At the same time he has denied Raila the use of Kenya’s airwaves. He has also sent the Administrative Police into the slums of Nairobi and Kisumu where hundreds of Luos have been killed indiscriminately leading to further outrage. Now the Mungiki gang are said to be terrorising the Luos of Kibera. Some are saying that politicians are funding them.

In Addis Kibaki also said, “Arrangements are also under way to resettle the displaced victims even as we search for a lasting solution to the current political crisis.” Those arrangements include government directives to close down IDP camps such as the A.S.K. show ground and Jamhuri Park where some 75,000 people, mainly women and children are sheltering.

“I am not leaving this place if I don’t have a secure place to relocate to,” Catherine Simba, an IDP from the western Kenyan town of Kakamega, told IRIN on 22 January at Jamhuri Park, the temporary home for at least 3,000 people displaced by post-election violence in parts of the country.

Simba was reacting to a government directive to have the camp closed. District Commissioner Evans Ogwankwa visited the camp on 21 January and said the government’s position was that the IDPs must leave.

“I’m not happy staying here, but I would also not want to go back to my looted and destroyed home near Kakamega town; I want to be relocated to a secure area,” she said.

“How can you take us back to the lion’s mouth, it will swallow us!” Simba exclaimed.

Kibaki also informed the AU summit that “the security situation in the country is under control.”

This statement following hot on the heels of the killing of two Orange Democratic legislators which have been described as political assassinations by the opposition. Three police stations have since been targeted by Kenyans and policemen have been lynched in response to the killing of the MPs. Kenyans continue to be attacked and killed. Vigilante gangs threaten to take the law into their hands and lynch robbers because the police are not doing anything to stop crime.

I found this slideshow extremely harrowing. It’s posted on Paris Match and depicts a lynching that took place on 16th January, in Mathare, Nairobi. Photographer, Enrico Dangnino and his colleague saved a Kamba man from being killed by a crowd of Luos. Nod to Vigilante Journalist a.k.a Anne Holmes.

Kenya’s slum residents are disillusioned with the police who have shot and killed people indiscriminately and refuse to patrol the slums at night when gangs are out in force. One gang member said

“The head officer said, ‘Let them fight each other. We will come in the morning to pick up the bodies’.

He said he called police to report the murder of a Luo friend in the Mathare slum by a group of Kikuyus. “When they didn’t come, we had to go out to protect ourselves.”

The country is lawless and gangs of young emboldened by the breakdown of law and order set up road blocks to demand money and kill people for belonging to the wrong tribe.

My sister, Rozi, called me yesterday trembling with fear. She lives in Western Kenya, on the Eldoret/Kakamega border. They had taken a patient to Moi Referral Hospital Eldoret. On their way back, the ambulance was stopped by youths bearing all forms of crude weapons. They demanded to know which tribes everyone in the ambulance belonged to. The driver was of the local tribe, so he was told to step aside. As the others showed their National Identity cards, my sister realized that all around them were corpses of human beings freshly chopped to death. Her turn came and she said she was Luhya. They told her to speak in Luhya, but my Sister doesn’t know Luhya. “I really can’t speak it because my mother is a Taita!” she pleaded. She had to desperately show a photocopy of my mother’s National Identity card which she had in her purse, a photocopy my mother had given to her the previous week to use as a referee for the bank account she was switching to. That photocopy saved my sister. The only language my sister can speak, apart from English and the National Swahili, is Gikuyu. The tribe the youths were targeting.

In the meantime the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said women and children are being raped in displacement camps, where sexual violence was being used to threaten and intimidate, as reported here.

Many law-abiding citizens are turning to gangs for protection because of the breakdown in law and order.

800 people are dead, 300,000 have been displaced by violence and the security situation is under control! It might look that way on the short journey from State House to Embakasi that Kibaki made under security escort to catch his flight to Addis.

Kofi Annan said that he had suggested to Kibaki on Tuesday that the military might need to be deployed to restore order. While British Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown agreed that deploying Kenya’s army might be a solution, saying police “at this stage seem to be seen as no longer neutral and behind some of the killings.”

Kumekucha calls the military option “a poisoned chalice.” pointing out emphatically that Kenya’s military barracks are bristling with ethnic competition. He says:

In addition to disenfranchising Kenyan voters forever, it will trash all our democratic credentials and history. And worst or it will be a perpetuation of the present day slavery to HELL-FOR-LEATHER rulership and absolutely no leadership. Two wrongs never made a right.

Kenya is crying for politico-economic justice which the military CANNOT deliver. It is therefore not only suicidal but also reckless and STUPID to entrust such an audacious quest to gun wielders while still smarting from fractures and amputations from machetes. We cannot afford to engage is such an expensive and FATAL gamble.

Kenyan anti-corruption campaigner Richard Leakey said

“I think Kibaki is getting very poor advice. He’s showing no personal leadership in this crisis; I’m not quite sure who around him is making the decisions.

“I think that’s a large part of the problem — the country feels at sea without a captain. But ODM has made some pretty outrageous statements too. Everybody is playing bad guy on this and nobody is trying to play good guy.”

In Addis the 53 member nations of the AU appeared toothless and at first tried to steer clear of addressing the violence that erupted following Kibaki’s private inauguration on the lawns of State House.

“There are divisions between one group who see themselves in Kibaki’s situation and another that has told him in no uncertain terms that this is not acceptable,” said one Western diplomat, adding that South Africa was in the latter group.

In Nairobi the mediation team set up by Kofi Annan had made breakthroughs and come up with a Four Point Plan to resolve the political crisis. Back in Addis Kibaki was describing Annan’s efforts as a “facilitation” mission rather than mediation!

Mr Annan said: “We believe within seven to 15 days, we should be able to tackle the first three agenda items. The first is to take immediate action to stop the violence.

“The second is immediate measures to address the humanitarian crisis, the third is how to overcome the current political crisis.” The fourth point concerned long-term issues such as unemployment, poverty and land reforms.

A document signed by both sides said an agreement might require “adjustments” to the constitution — suggesting a power-sharing arrangement that would give opposition leader Raila Odinga a new position of prime minister.

Finally, Kibaki tells Odinga to allow Kenya’s High Court to arbitrate. Nobody takes this option seriously. Kibaki appointed new judges only a month before the elections were held, further proof if any were needed that the theft was planned in advance. Kenyan Jurist elucidates the problems with the court option clearly:

As I have stated previously, this insistence on challenging the results in court is just a ruse and it ignores the fact that we are dealing with an issue not of legality but legitimacy and justice. How can anyone expect the court to be fair when in Kivuitu states, “I arrived at State House to take the certificate and I found the Chief Justice there, ready to swear-in Kibaki.” What can Kenyans expect from the court?

Hon Martha Karua also repeats the legal redress meme. If the government was bold enough to interfere with the tallying of votes. Just consider what the following;

  • Do we know where the Returning Officers of the disputed polling areas are. Is their security guaranteed? Will they be able to testify without intimidation and inteference? Remember the case sad case of DAVID MUNYAKEI. Is any of these people willing to risk their lives for the greater good of Kenyans.
  • Has the official ECK tally of votes been published in the Kenya Gazette or other media? Will it be interfered with? The longer this takes the greater the risk.
  • Have all the election materials been secured. Remember, in law, the petitioner has the burden of proving that the election was rigged. If the election materials have not been secured or tampered with then this would render the case moot.
  • Now that the Commonwealth Observers, European Union Observers, the Electoral Commissioners and many other have cast doubt on the election result, can Kenyans accept a court verdict that say the Election was proper?
  • Would politicians please spare us the legal mumbo jumbo and go right to resolving the political dispute at hand.

    By now it must be obvious that Kibaki is resistant to any kind of negotiations and neither is he going to step down. It is time for the international community to censure him more forcefully. What can be done? Robert Calderisi writing in the Globe and Mail says that the military coup d’etat option that is gaining currency among some commentators might be too draconian. He suggests the international community can respond by

    “[seizing] the assets of senior officials who, until now, have salted away their loot in Western banks with total impunity.

    “The world can continue to provide direct support to community groups, human rights activists, democratic reformers, and those promoting a free press.

    “And, in a number of cases, the answer may be to make foreign assistance more openly political..

    “Making aid more political does not mean using it as a convenient instrument of foreign policy. But if the goal is to fight poverty, the way a government treats its citizens — including its journalists, entrepreneurs and small farmers — should be central to the level of aid it receives.”

    More on how the Kenyan election was stolen

    Four Kenyan election observers who witnessed the last phase of the presidential vote tallying, when political parties were verifying the results that had been announced, have recorded their observations in an hour-by-hour log. Their testimonies expose what can only be termed a resolve among electoral officials—including Commissioners and staff—to obtain a pre-determined outcome, whether supported by fact or not.

    Kenyans for Peace with Justice have released a series of documents that record how the election was stolen. This is a minute by minute account of what happened over those two fateful days.

    Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)
    Kenyan Elections Observers’ Log: December 29-30, 2007

    The following account is drawn from the statements of four of the five domestic election observers allowed into the verification process the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) afforded political party representatives the night before the announcement of the supposed results for the Presidency.

    The account illustrates the list of anomalies, malpractices and illegalities that lay behind those results, raising questions as to the ethics, non-partisanship and professionalism of the ECK commissioners and staff as well as to the validity of the supposed results. The expectation of all concerned was that any findings of the verification process would be addressed by the ECK Commissioners when they met the following morning, but this did not happen.

    Countdown to deception: 30 hours that destroyed Kenya

    On Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 1830, Mwai Kibaki was sworn in as President of the Republic of Kenya at State House in Nairobi. Three forms of violence immediately broke out across the country: disorganised and spontaneous protests; organised militia activity; and disproportionate use of force by the Kenyan police force and General Service Unit (GSU). As a result, over 500 people were killed, 4,000 exiled in Uganda and over 250,000 people internally displaced. Many more are in hospital nursing injuries.Domestic election observers who monitored the final hours of the presidential ballot tallying and announcements noticed transgressions at once brazen and shocking. The following log captures the critical highlights of Kenya’s deviation from democracy.

    Saturday December 29, 2007

    1343: Results for 174 constituencies received and the gap narrows While sitting with Institute of Education in Democracy (IED)’s Executive Director, Koki Muli (observer), and journalist Kiss 100’s Paul Ilado (journalist) on the second floor of Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), the ECK’s Chair, Samuel Kivuitu, receives results that put the gap between the Party of National Unity (PNU)’s Kibaki about 107,779 votes behind the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)’s Raila Odinga— Kibaki has 3,697,768 and Odinga 3,805,547 votes, while ODM Kenya’s Kalonzo Musyoka has 498,361 votes.

    1500: Nail-biting wait

    1 The four domestic election observers were: Julius Melli, Association of Professional Societies of East Africa (APSEA), Koki Muli, Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) and co-Chair of the Kenya Domestic Observers Forum (KEDOF); Dr Bernard Sihanya, Faculty of Law, University of Nairobi; Hussein Mohammed Yusuf, Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims (SUPKEM). Their statements were recorded by hand, on computer and audiotape recording by Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ) and are also being turned into affidavits for the filing of criminal complaints against the ECK and,if necessary, private prosecutions against the ECK.

    Some ECK Commissioners express concerns to Muli about the long delays and remark that, since the gap between the two front-runners is narrowing, the ECK may have to await results from all the constituencies before announcing the final tally. This, it is feared, will heighten tensions and anxiety among political parties, their candidates and supporters. No one seems to understand why the delays were so long, especially as the ECK had been better prepared than in 2002, when such delays were not experienced.

    1600: Ballots scrutiny

    Kivuitu becomes more suspicious of discrepancies and begins to contemplate a reexamination
    of results. Most results are not available as they have only been telephoned in. Kivuitu yields to pressure from ODM and PNU to scrutinise the tallying of presidential ballots in all the 210 constituencies after party agents point out that votes being announced by the ECK’s tallying centre in KICC do not agree with those announced at the constituency tallying centres. He agrees to have two political party agents each for every presidential candidate and five domestic election observers verify the results. Kivuitu says he wants the findings in a report to be discussed by all ECK Commissioners the following morning.

    1800: The night shift begins

    The atmosphere inside the ECK is tense. The day teams leave without properly handing over to the night teams. Kipkemoi Kirui, deputy leader for Team II (night), notes that although results for Lamu East, Lamu West, Wundanyi and Dujis have come in, they do not have the statutory documents, Forms 16A, 16 and 17A, accompanying them. The day team leaders responsible have therefore not signed for them. Kirui also refuses to receive them without the necessary documents because there are doubts about the verity of the data. Word goes round that his team is not accepting results without the accompanying Form 16As. For most of the night, he and his team repeatedly call the returning officers for results together with statutory documents. Statutory documents for Ijara, Galole, Wundanyi and Dujis are not received even though the results are phoned in.

    1900: Setting up for verification

    The tallying centre at KICC is set up for ten teams, each sitting around a table to receive, verify and forward constituency results to the internet technology (IT) team to prepare for announcement. The teams are managed by a team leader and a deputy leader. Most of the teams consist of returning officers and ECK staff. Each team is working on about 21 constituencies shared according to ECK’s own plan so that, for example, Team I deals with Mombasa and Nairobi.

    In addition to tables for the ten teams, more are reserved for use by ECK Commissioners and senior staff as well as filing clerks, spread out strategically in the room to enable any of the above mentioned people to operate from a station. There are also waiting chairs reserved for returning officers, security staff and other people allowed inside the rooms.

    2000-2100: Initial hitches

    Observers are denied access to the tallying room at KICC. They get the ECK Chair and Secretary to intervene and are finally let in. ECK Deputy Secretary, Suleiman Chege, who receives them congenially, insists that they be accorded all the help they need. Observers are conducted on a tour of ECK’s offices enthusiastically.

    2237: Verification begins

    After arguments about how and where to begin the verification, work finally begins. James Orengo for ODM insists that results for all 210 constituencies be reviewed while Martha Karua for PNU wants scrutiny to be limited to Forms 16A of only contested constituencies, which she insists they have to identify and agree on since the discrepancies and problems associated with tallying are not only in constituencies that the ODM identified in the afternoon, mostly in Central and central Eastern Provinces, but were in Nyanza and the Rift Valley. Julius Melli, Association of Professional Societies in East Africa (APSEA) (observer) encounters a hostile reception at the verifying tables. Karua complains about there being too many observers, prompting a domestic observer to move from the table where agents of political parties are seated to another table where he is not noticeable.

    2247: Extent of the problem

    All results for the presidential election are in except for 14 constituencies. Observers immediately notice discrepancies in the results transmitted from the constituencies to the ECK’s headquarters at KICC. They also notice that a number of the statutory documents for the constituencies’ returns have serious anomalies:

    a) they are not signed by the returning officers;

    b) they are not countersigned by agents;

    c) in some cases, only photocopies of these forms are available even though the law requires that the originals be filed;

    d) although all these forms (Form 16A, 16 and 17A) require an ECK stamp to stamp to validate them, those that have a stamp are the exception rather than the rule;

    e) ECK Commissioners have thus announced constituency results without verifying their authenticity with the necessary statutory documentation. For example, provisional results were telephoned in and even though the ECK called back the returning officers to ensure the results indeed came from them, most returning officers phoned in different results from what they delivered in person to KICC. Yet the ECK Commissioners accepted and included these results in the final tally;

    f) Although the ECK Regulations (Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act, Cap 7 of 2007) clearly states that the ECK shall not accept for results that showed voter turnout of 100 per cent and above, the ECK Commissioners allowed returning officers who had returns over 100 per cent to “correct them.” They subsequently accepted and included such results for tallying without any explanation, for example, Maragwa constituency had given results amounting to a 115 per cent voter turnout but the returning officer was allowed to reduce them to 85.24 per cent at KICC and these results were accepted for the final tally!

    g) It is unusual for ECK senior staff and Commissioners to accept results from constituencies without proper documentation and to allow returning officers to prepare the documentation at the ECK headquarters as they did at KICC. Most returning officers did not arrive with proper documentation yet were allowed to prepare their documents at KICC. This was the case for Kipipiri, Starehe, Kinangop, Garsen, Turkana Central and Turkana North and Kajiado North.

    Observer inquiries establish that agents were unable to sign Form 16A in areas of Central and Eastern provinces because they were not allowed to do so or they were sent out of the counting halls altogether. In some areas, the returning officers inform the observers that agents did not feel secure enough to stay through the counting. This apparently happened in the Meru districts, in Central, Nyanza and parts of the Rift Valley.

    The agents of PNU, ODM and ODM-K settle on 44 constituencies found to have filed results, already announced by ECK Commissioners, without any primary or original evidence for example, original signed, countersigned and stamped Forms 16A, 16 and 17A. These constituencies include the following: Gatundu South, Makadara, Likoni, Kaloleni, Galole, Lamu East, Wundanyi, Malindi, Voi, Ijara, Dujis, Igembe South, South Imenti, Nithi, Kitui West, Kitui South, Mwala, Kinangop, Ol Kalou, Mukurweini, Juja, Githunguri, Kiambaa, Lari, Eldoret East, Baringo East, Baringo Central, Laikipia West, Nakuru Town, Naivasha, Kuresoi, Rongai, Kimilili, Bumula, Alego, Bondo, Kisumu, Rural, Kasipul-Kabondo, Ndhiwa, Migori, Kuria, Bomachoge, Bobasi, Nyaribaru Chache and Kitutu Masaba.

    Results for these constituencies were thus announced in contravention of the law. In addition, results for Dagoretti constituency were found to have been announced while vote tallying was still in progress.

    Documents for Kinangop, Kipipiri, Ol Kalou, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Kieni, Mathira, Othaya and Ndaragwa had no ECK stamp.

    Many constituency results were received and announced by Commissioners without the zignatures of ECK officials and all party agents. Indeed, some of the documents conveying the results contained only the results without the presiding officers’ signature, ECK stamp or any agent’s signature. For example, there were no signatures and stamps in most Forms 16A, 16, and 17 A from Nithi, Kitui West, Kitui South, Mwala, Kinangop, Ol Kalou, Mukurweini, Gichugu, Lari, Mathioya, Eldoret East, Mosop, Aldai, Baringo East, Baringo Central, Laikipia West, Naivasha, Nakuru, Kuresoi, Kajiado North, and Kajiado South yet the Commissioners had already announced the results from these constituencies.

    Some constituencies had only a few statutory forms, but their total votes were still announced. These included Ndaragwa, which had 25 Forms 16A not signed by party agents.

    There were 34 Forms 16A not signed for Mathira. There was one Form 16A that had a double entry, and two returns for parliamentary results were entered in the presidential file. The total presidential tally of 16A returns was actually 77,442 votes after additions were verified by a Commissioner, ECK Deputy Secretary and observers against the 80,024 announced by the ECK.

    The ECK’s legal officer, Jemimah Keli, is notified of these discrepancies by Melli, but she takes away the file and hands it to the ECK’s head of research, […] Laichena, for storage. She says rechecking numbers would slow everyone down. The focus of the scrutiny, she adds, should be limited to whether or not there are Forms 16 and 16A, and not stretch to calculations or checking for consistency in the figures. She says that she and other ECK staff had not slept for many days and wished they could do voluntary work like the observers. She asks if Melli is being paid to observe the elections.

    When answers in the negative, she asks why he is paying so much attention to detail. She is taking notes but seems more preoccupied with justifying every concern raised than addressing it. There are questions about the accuracy of her record of the goings-on. 16 Forms 16A for Othaya have not been signed by party agents.

    Results for the following constituencies were announced without some statutory documents including Forms 16A, 16 and 17A Makadara, Starehe, Likoni, Malindi, Galole, Wundanyi, Ijara, Lamu East, Voi, Dujis and Igembe South.

    Some results were also faxed as provisional tallies, as in Kirinyaga Central. In other cases, results were announced when there was no documentation to support the announcement, for example, Kimilili, Bumula Alego, Kitutu Masaba, Nyaribari Chache, Bomachoge and Kuria constituencies.

    In some cases, the returning officers’ files available at ECK’s tallying centre are in duplicate and ECK senior staff claim they cannot find the original files for scrutiny. Examples include Kieni, Ol Kalou and North Imenti. Indeed, most photocopies of Forms 16A were neither signed by the presiding officers nor by party agents, yet the results on such forms were included in the tally of results.

    In some cases there were disparities between the total votes cast for parliamentary and civic elections on one part and those cast for the presidential election on the other.

    2300: Results without documents

    Work slows to a near-stop until around midnight when a sleepy-looking fellow is ushered in. He is the returning officer from Moyale. He does not have Forms 16A, 16, 17 or 17A. He slips into a doze as Kirui consults. Hours later, Kivuitu announces the Moyale results—without any documentation.

    After Moyale, results for Saku and Laisamis follow. They are not supported by any of the statutory documents and Kirui refuses to receive them. His Team Leader goes ahead to receive them nonetheless. The ECK Chair announces the results. The figures are, in a number of instances, overstated. Kirui feels perturbed because there is no reason for the returning officers’ failure to bring in the statutory documents three days after the vote tallying at the constituency level.

    Disparities between provisional results phoned in earlier and those relayed to KICC were also noted for Kipipiri, Kieni, Maragua, Juja and Dagoretti constituencies

    2300: Slippery returning officers

    Observers Melli and Muli meet the returning officer for Starehe and ask about the constituency. He says the people who had been causing trouble wanted to disrupt the electoral process. They had wanted him to announce results that favoured their candidate and had been threatening him and pushing him forward but he says he had insisted on doing what the ECK had sent him to do.

    He says that he first called for police reinforcements and then announced the winner because they had recounted the vote twice. There had been an anomaly in one of the stations, he says, and when it was rectified, the winner was known. He does not, however, let observers examine the file for the constituency. Observers never got to examine the file.

    The Kipipiri results reported on the telephone give 36,470 votes to Kibaki against the 37,315 announced by the ECK. The final tally on file shows 37,279 votes.

    Sunday, December 30, 2007

    0100: Insider information

    One ECK senior staff member calls Muli outside the hall and asks her if she is aware that something terrible is happening. The ECK senior staff member points out that it is important for observers to scrutinise all returning officers’ returns especially of Mombasa, Central, Eastern, North Eastern, Rift Valley and Nyanza. The senior staff member also cautions her that the discrepancies have been planned systematically and are not accidental. She says the scheme involves most Commissioners, who have organised how the tallying will be carried out. There is also the concern that Commissioners were in charge of their regions—which had not been the practice in the past—and most of the Commissioners engaged returning officers who owed them loyalty, in some cases, replacing returning officers who had experience, having worked with the ECK in the past.

    0200: Missing returns

    The only constituencies without results are Kibwezi and Emuhaya. In the case of Kibwezi, the returning officer had reportedly been threatened with dire consequences by one of the candidates if he released the results. Although he was assured of transport by helicopter and additional paramilitary police escort, he still would not come in. Emuhaya was bogged down by logistical problems. The ECK Chair announced the results the following day.

    Electoral official quits

    Kirui’s colleagues tell him that results are being reduced or suppressed for certain constituencies. He raises the alarm. He takes his Team Leader, […] Njuguna, aside and starts saying: “My brother, this is an important national exercise. I am concerned that we are not following the law and we are letting down Kenyans …” Njuguna tells him he would be recommending Kirui’s removal because he was proving difficult. He goes ahead to report him to Daniel Koech, who asks Njuguna to cooperate with Kirui.

    Njuguna goes back to their work station. Kirui follows him and tells the team that he regards their work as an important national exercise that demands patriotism and neutrality. Kirui also demands respect and cooperation from Njuguna, who says that if he wishes to, he could leave. Kirui leaves the ECK offices for the last time.

    0400: Fatigue and irritation set in

    Melli says, “I started noticing general irritation and resistance from ECK officials. I asked for the Nithi constituency file, but the returning officer grabbed it and held it close to his chest. The same was the case for the Starehe constituency file. The returning officer for Nithi went outside and carried all his documents with him wherever he went.” ECK Commissioners who are asked to intervene defend their staff, saying they had not completed work on the files.

    0500: Invented figures show up

    Molo constituency returning officer provides results showing that Kibaki has 50,145 votes at completion of counting but ECK prepares to announce 75,261 votes for him and provides a computer print out of the increased results. ECK Commission staff deny observers the opportunity to verify information on file, saying the result had not been announced.

    Observers at the ECK tallying centre at KICC who take a break from the tallying room to freshen up are denied re-entry. Those who come in to relieve their colleagues on night duty are also barred from entering. Police presence is strong and the atmosphere tense.

    0930: Agents ordered out

    A message goes out on the public address system asking all agents to leave the premises. Observers are also ordered out and evicted.

    1000: ECK goes underground

    A media briefing scheduled for 1000 to announce presidential results is put off indefinitely.

    1100: Odinga press conference

    The ODM presidential candidate claims he has won the election according to results from his call centre.

    1300: Trial balloon

    Word goes round that the ECK could announce the results of the presidential election at any time.

    1421: ODM press conference

    ODM holds a press briefing at KICC and discloses rigging by the ECK in 48 constituencies after a joint parties and ECK audit of all the 210 constituencies. William Ruto discloses that all 48 constituencies lacked supporting documents and inflated Kibaki’s figures. The ECK does not provide any evidence to the contrary.

    1620: Protests on the floor

    The ECK Chair attempts to announce the final results of the presidential election. He, however, begun with announcing the results of Molo which were inflated, 75,261 instead of the 50,145 votes announced at the constituency tallying centre. Kivuitu is shouted down by ODM which insists that the contested results need to be resolved, including those of Molo, and also insist the delayed results from Eastern and Central provinces had been inflated. The ECK Commissioners leave the briefing centre under police escort.

    1642: Bombshell

    An ECK staff member, Kipkemoi Kirui, tells an ODM-convened press conference that the poll results and documents are being manipulated at the KICC, and that he and many other people had deserted their work stations in frustration.

    1700: Dogged determination

    A signal goes out to the diplomatic corps that the ECK is about to announce the results.

    1739: The Final announcement

    Paramilitary police clear KICC as the ECK Chair announces Kibaki winner of the presidential election in a sealed room. The news is relayed via the public Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) and picked up by other networks.

    1824: Swift swearing-in

    Kibaki is sworn in as President at State House in Nairobi as protests erupt all over Kenya. A live press conference by ODM is pulled off air as the Minister for Internal Security suspends live broadcasts.

    more documents here

    Letter to Kivuite from Kenyan poet Shailja Patel

    Kivuitu letter

    An Open Letter to Samuel Kivuitu, Chair of the Electoral Commission of Kenya
    Mr. Kivuitu,

    We’ve never met. It’s unlikely we ever will. But, like every other Kenyan, I will remember you for the rest of my life. The nausea I feel at the mention of your name may recede. The bitterness and grief will not.

    You had a mandate, Mr. Kivuitu. To deliver a free, fair and transparent election to the people of Kenya. You and your commission had 5 years to prepare. You had a tremendous pool of resources, skills, technical support, to draw on, including the experience and advice of your peers in the field – leaders and experts in governance, human rights, electoral process and constitutional law. You had the trust of 37 million Kenyans.

    We believed it was going to happen. On December 27th, a record 65% of registered Kenyan voters rose as early as 4am to vote. Stood in lines for up to 10 hours, in the sun, without food, drink, toilet facilities. As the results came in, we cheered when minister after powerful minister lost their parliamentary seats. When the voters of Rift Valley categorically rejected the three sons of Daniel Arap Moi, the despot who looted Kenya for 24 years. The country spoke through the ballot, en masse, against the mindblowing greed, corruption, human rights abuses, callous dismissal of Kenya’s poor, that have characterised the Kibaki administration.

    But Kibaki wasn’t going to go. When it became clear that you were announcing vote tallies that differed from those counted and confirmed in the constituencies, there was a sudden power blackout at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where the returns were being announced. Hundreds of GSU (General Service Unit) paramilitaries suddenly marched in. Ejected all media except the government mouthpiece Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.

    Fifteen minutes later, we watched, dumbfounded, as you declared Kibaki the winner. 30 minutes later, we watched in sickened disbelief and outrage, as you handed the announcement to Kibaki on the lawns of State House. Where the Chief Justice, strangely enough, had already arrived. Was waiting, fully robed, to hurriedly swear him in.

    You betrayed us. Perhaps we’ll never know when, or why, you made that decision. One rumor claims you were threatened with the execution of your entire family if you did not name Kibaki as presidential victor. When I heard it, I hoped it was true. Because at least then I could understand why you chose instead to plunge our country into civil war.

    I don’t believe that rumor any more. Not since you appeared on TV, looking tormented, sounding confused, contradicting yourself. Saying, among other things, that you did not resign because you “did not want the country to call me a coward”, but you “cannot state with certainty that Kibaki won the election”. Following that with the baffling statement “there are those around him [Kibaki] who should never have been born.” The camera operator had a sense of irony – the camera shifted several times to the scroll on your wall that read: “Help Me, Jesus.”

    As the Kenya Chapter of the International Commission of Jurists rescinds the Jurist of the Year award they bestowed on you, as the Law Society of Kenya strikes you from their Roll of Honour and disbars you, I wonder what goes through your mind these days.

    Do you think of the 300,000 Kenyans displaced from their homes, their lives? Of the thousands still trapped in police stations, churches, any refuge they can find, across the country? Without food, water, toilets, blankets? Of fields ready for harvest, razed to the ground? Of granaries filled with rotting grain, because no one can get to them? Of the Nairobi slum residents of Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Dandora, ringed by GSU and police, denied exit, or access to medical treatment and emergency relief, for the crime of being poor in Kenya?

    I bet you haven’t made it to Jamhuri Park yet. But I’m sure you saw the news pictures of poor Americans, packed like battery chickens into their stadiums, when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana. Imagine that here in Nairobi, Mr. Kivuitu. 75,000 Kenyans, crammed into a giant makeshift refugee camp. Our own Hurricane Kivuitu-Kibaki, driven by fire, rather than floods. By organized militia rather than crumbling levees. But the same root cause – the deep, colossal contempt of a tiny ruling class for the rest of humanity. Over 60% of our internal refugees are children. The human collateral damage of your decision.

    And now, imagine grief, Mr. Kivuitu. Grief so fierce, so deep, it shreds the muscle fibres of your heart. Violation so terrible, it grinds down the very organs of your body, forces the remnants through your kidneys, for you to piss out in red water. Multiply that feeling by every Kenyan who has watched a loved one slashed to death in the past week. Every parent whose child lies, killed by police bullets, in the mortuaries of Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret. Everyone who has run sobbing from a burning home or church, hearing the screams of those left behind. Every woman, girl, gang-raped.

    Do you sleep well these days, Mr. Kivuitu? I don’t. I have nightmares. I wake with my heart pounding, slow tears trickling from the corners of my eyes, random phrases running through my head:

    Remember how we felt in 2002? It’s all gone.
    (Muthoni Wanyeki, ED of Kenya Human Rights Commission, on the night of December 30th, 2007, after Kibaki was illegally sworn in as president).

    There is a crime here that goes beyond recrimination. There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolise.
    (John Steinbeck, American writer, on the betrayal of internally displaced Americans, in The Grapes of Wrath)

    Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi….kila siku tuwe na shukrani
    (“Justice be our shield and defender….every day filled with thanksgiving” Lines from Kenya’s national anthem)

    I soothe myself back to patchy sleep with my mantra in these days, as our country burns and disintegrates around us:

    Courage.
    Courage comes.
    Courage comes from cultivating.
    Courage comes from cultivating the habit.
    Courage comes from cultivating the habit of refusing.
    Courage comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions.
    (Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese Nobel Peace Prize winner).

    I wake with a sense of unbearable sadness. Please let it not be true…..

    Meanwhile, the man you named President cowers in the State House, surrounded by a cabal of rapacious power brokers, and a bevy of sycophantic unseated Ministers and MPs, who jostle for position and succession. Who fuel the fires by any means they can, to keep themselves important, powerful, necessary. The smoke continues to rise from the torched swathes of Rift Valley, the gutted city of Kisumu, the slums of Nairobi and Mombasa. The Red Cross warns of an imminent cholera epidemic in Nyanza and Western Kenya, deprived for days now of electricity and water. Containers pile up at the Port of Mombasa, as ships, unable to unload cargo, leave still loaded. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, the DRC, all dependent on Kenyan transit for fuel and vital supplies, grind to a halt.

    A repressive regime rolls out its panoply of oppression against legitimate dissent. Who knew our police force had so many sleek, muscled, excellently-trained horses, to mow down protestors? Who guessed that in a city of perennial water shortages, we had high-powered water cannons to terrorize Kenyans off the streets?

    I am among the most fortunate of the fortunate. Not only am I still whole, alive, healthy, mobile; not only do I have food, shelter, transport, the safety of those I love; I have the gift of work. I have the privilege to be in the company of the most brilliant, principled, brave, resilient Kenyans of my generation. To contribute whatever I can as we organize, analyse, strategize, mobilize, draw on everything we know and can do, to save our country. I marvel at the sheer collective volume of trained intelligence, of skill, expertise, experience, in our meetings. At the ability to rise above personal tragedy – families still hostage in war zones, friends killed, homes overflowing with displaced relatives – to focus on the larger picture and envisage a solution.

    I listen to lawyers, social scientists, economists, youth activists, humanitarians; experts on conflict, human rights, governance, disaster relief; to Kenyans across every sector and ethnicity, and I think:

    Is this what we have trained all our lives for? To confront this epic catastrophe, caused by a group of old men who have already sucked everything they possibly can out of Kenya, yet will cling until they die to their absolute power?

    You know these people too, Mr. Kivuitu. The principled, brave, resilient, brilliant Kenyans. The idealists who took seriously the words we sang as schoolchildren, about building the nation. Some of them worked closely with you, right through the election. Some called you friend. You don’t even have the excuse that Kibaki, or his henchmen, might offer – that of inhabiting a world so removed from ours that they cannot fathom the reality of ordinary Kenyans. You know of the decades of struggle, bloodshed, faith and suffering that went into creating this fragile beautiful thing we called the “democratic space in Kenya.” So you can imagine the ways in which we engage with the unimaginable. We coin new similes:

    lie low like a 16A (the electoral tally form returned by each constituency, many of which were altered or missing in the final count)

    We joke about the Kivuitu effect – which turns internationalists, pan-Africanists, fervent advocates for the dissolution of borders, into nationalists who cry at the first verse of the national anthem:

    Ee Mungu nguvu yetu
    Ilete baraka kwetu
    Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi
    Natukae na undugu
    Amani na uhuru
    Raha tupate na ustawi.

    O God of all creation
    Bless this our land and nation
    Justice be our shield and defender
    May we dwell in unity
    Peace and liberty
    Plenty be found within our borders.

    Rarely do we allow ourselves pauses, to absorb the enormity of our country shattered, in 7 days. We cry, I think, in private. At least I do. In public, we mourn through irony, persistent humor, and action. Through the exercise of patience, stamina, fortitude, generosity, that humble me to witness. Through the fierce relentless focus of our best energies towards challenges of stomach-churning magnitude.

    We tell the stories that aren’t making it into the press. The retired general in Rift Valley sheltering 200 displaced families on his farm. The Muslim Medical Professionals offering free treatment to anyone injured in political protest. We challenge, over and over again, with increasing weariness, the international media coverage that presents this as “tribal warfare”, “ethnic conflict”, for an audience that visualises Africa through Hollywood: Hotel Rwanda, The Last King of Scotland, Blood Diamond.

    I wish you’d thought of those people, when you made the choice to betray them. I wish you’d drawn on their courage, their integrity, their clarity, when your own failed you. I wish you’d had the imagination to enter into the lives, the dreams, of 37 million Kenyans.

    But, as you’ve probably guessed by now, Mr. Kivuitu, this isn’t really a letter to you at all. This is an attempt to put words to what cannot be expressed in words. To mourn what is too immense to mourn. A clumsy groping for something beyond the word ‘heartbreak’. A futile attempt to communicate what can only be lived, moment by moment. This is a howl of anguish and rage. This is a love letter to a nation. This is a long low keening for my country.

    Shailja Patel

    Technorati Tags: , ,

    Justice be our shield and defender

    “My father was shot as he stood in front of our house. The police were shooting indiscriminately, targeting anyone on sight. My father was shot in the stomach,” witness Alphonse Otieno said today by phone from Kisumu’s Kondele slum.

    Proof that Kenyan GSU are using live rounds to kill demonstrators. A Kisumu demonstrator is shot dead in cold blood in Kondole, another is kicked brutally when he is down and dying. They are being hunted down as this video shows.

    BBC clip here. Be warned: both clips are graphic and distressing.
    Photobucket

    Police club a woman suspected of being an ODM supporter

    GSU Shoot, Police Club

    Therein lies the problem. The Kenyan government should not be sending the GSU armed with kalashnikovs and live bullets to police the demonstrations. I do not condone police violence at all, whether by clubbing or bullets, but make the point that arming paramilitary forces leads inexorably to those arms being used against innocent civilians and with the inevitable loss of life following closely behind. Coercion of this sort does not quell violence, it nurtures it.

    Note how in Kisumu yesterday Michael Barasa, a police officer said “At the moment, [demonstrators] have lit bonfires in some parts of the city but we do not want to provoke them yet.”

    We do not want to provoke them yet. Non-violent actions turns violent when the other side uses violent means to suppress them. Using tear gas and bullets only ratchets up violence. Take the GSU out of the equation and the demonstrations would in all likelihood remain peaceful. The government must also lift the ban on rallies as there is no valid reason for assuming that “criminal elements” are taking advantage of them.

    Joseph Karoki has posted photos of victims of police brutality on his blog. Graphic image.

    Much of the worst violence has occured in Kisumu where many protestors have so far been shot dead. There are no reliable figures yet for how many have been killed to date. There are claims that 53 people have died and of those 44 have been killed by bullets. People are enraged by this; many of them did not vote for Kibaki and now he sends his guns in to shoot them dead. Frustration and anger levels are rising so it may now be too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

    The police chief Grace Kaindi said she had no regrets about giving the “shoot to kill” order. Her statement to AP press is contradictory. She claimed that she feared the police would be overwhelmed by the demonstrators and then later said that all those killed were “looters and thieves.” Belying the video footage shown at the top of this post.

    Photobucket

    Nairobi demonstrators in a haze of tear gas

    Human Rights Watch has criticised the apparent “shoot to kill” policy by demanding that Kenyan police follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which state that law enforcement officers must apply non-violent methods when at all possible, leaving force as a last resort and only in proportion to the offence committed.

    According to HRW even people who were not part of the demonstrations were hit by stray bullets.

    Yesterday’s demonstrations in Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret remained peaceful until police started shooting tear gas and live rounds.
    Eldoret demonstrations 16.01.08

    Eldoret Demonstrations

    This is what happened in Eldoret AFTER the GSU were sent in

    The police ferried the bodies of the men they had shot to the mortuary. In the chaos, they brought some in alive, mixing them up with the dead, a priest said. Their suffering as they were left to die amid the corpses is unimaginable.

    UPDATE:

    Millions of Kenyans are very outraged by the brutal execution, captured by one of KTN’s courageous camera persons of a young protester in Kisumu whose capital offence appears to have been nothing more than making faces at and playing hide and seek with heavily armed goons in para-military gear… But does he have a name?

    Does he have a family?

    Yes, he does.

    Let me resurrect him in a sense by telling you a few things about him.

    His name was George Williams Omondi Onyango.

    He was twenty two years old.

    He was a mechanic employed by Simba Line Motors in Kisumu.

    He lived in the Migosi area of that western Kenyan town.

    He was also my brother-in-law. His older brother is married to my youngest sister.

    Like every other television viewer in Kenya, I was gnashing my teeth and cursing the illegal and criminal assault on unarmed peaceful demonstrators all over Kenya.

    I was expressing my outrage in my living room watching the news at nine pm when my cell phone rang and I saw it was my sister calling.

    She was sobbing uncontrollably, asking me if I had seen the segment on the news about the young man being shot.

    I replied that I had seen the piece at 4 pm, at 7 pm and now at 9.

    Choking and wailing, she told me between bouts of weeping who the executed young man was.

    To say I was stupefied with additional shock is probably the understatement of this week.

    Photobucket

    On the origins of the General Service Unit

    I have been dipping into James Dianga’s book Kenya 1982 The Attempted Coup, The Consequence of a One Party Dictatorship ever since it was brought to my attention a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued to read why the GSU was formed. Kenyatta did not trust the army because the officer class was dominated by Kambas while the rearguard was made up of Kalenjins. Kenyatta was disdainful of the army because there were hardly any Kikuyu in its ranks and he believed it was made up of illiterates. For these reasons Kenyatta could not wholly rely on it so the GSU was formed alongside the Kenya Air Force. These two units consisted of carefully selected Kikuyus from Central Province and Kiambu and their function was to act as a bulwark against the Kenyan Army.

    The GSU is a highly mobile, well trained (by Israel) and heavily-armed elitist paramilitary unit; it is a

    political force, the regime’s coercive arm against its internal enemies’. Targeted for rapid transformation into a virtually all-Kikuyu hit squad, with its base at Gatundu, close to the President’s estate, there could be little doubt about the function of the G.S.U.

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

    Marende elected speaker of the house

    I am glad that is over! So now ODM have a majority in Kenya’s Parliament and should the centre hold this is going to get very interesting. Attendance in the house promises to be high and not just when MPs are voting themselves huge pay increases. ODM’s Kenneth Marende scooped 105 votes to become Kenya’s next Speaker of the National Assembly; a victory which has been met in Nairobi with much tooting of car horns. PNU’s Kenneth Ole Kaparo lost by 4 votes.

    Odinga has called for three days of demonstrations to begin tomorrow.