Archive for the 'Raila Declares himself the winner' Category

Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence

Human Rights Watch report on the (sotto voce) ethnic cleansing that has been taking place in Kenya. This report has some new information about how the violence against Kikuyus, Kisii and Luya was incited by elders and opposition Party officials after the election results were announced but it does not address the campaign to marginalise Kikuyu by certain ODM leaders. It is however a positive sign that these crimes against humanity can not and will not be swept under the carpet.

Opposition leaders are right to challenge Kenya’s rigged presidential poll, but they can’t use it as an excuse for targeting ethnic groups.

Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch

Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence

Police Should Protect Displaced Persons Camps

(Eldoret, January 24, 2008) – Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya’s disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks, targeting mostly Kikuyu and Kisii people in and around the town of Eldoret, could continue unless the government and opposition act to stop the violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leadership to take immediate steps to stop its supporters from committing further attacks. At the same time, Human Rights Watch said the Kenyan police should urgently deploy extra officers to the region to protect displaced people and resident Kikuyu communities.

“Opposition leaders are right to challenge Kenya’s rigged presidential poll, but they can’t use it as an excuse for targeting ethnic groups,” said Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We have evidence that ODM politicians and local leaders actively fomented some post-election violence, and the authorities should investigate and make sure it stops now.”

Research by Human Rights Watch in and around the town of Eldoret, which has borne the brunt of the Rift Valley violence, indicates that attacks by several ethnic communities against others, especially local Kikuyu populations, were planned soon after the elections. In some cases, local elders and opposition politicians appear to have incited and organized the violence. Since December 27, 2007, clashes between members of the Kalenjin and Luya communities and their Kikuyu and Kisii neighbors in the Rift Valley have left more than 400 people dead and have displaced thousands more.

Human Rights Watch interviewed members of several pro-ODM Kalenjin communities who described the ways in which local leaders and ODM party agents actively fomented violence against Kikuyu communities. A Kalenjin preacher in a village in Eldoret North constituency told Human Rights Watch that on the morning of December 29, 2007, a local ODM party mobilizer “called a meeting and said that war had broken in Eldoret town, so the elders organized the youth into groups of not less than 15, and they went to loot [Kikuyu] homes and burn them down.”

The following day, the village held another meeting and the youth marched to the nearby town of Turbo. They were turned away by police. But they returned early the next morning, catching the police off guard, “and burnt almost half of the Kikuyu shops in town, including the petrol station,” according to the preacher. Human Rights Watch visited Turbo and found that most Kikuyu-owned buildings had been laid to ruin by the attackers. Displaced Kikuyu seeking shelter at the police station in Turbo confirmed to Human Rights Watch that their homes and businesses were destroyed by groups of Kalenjin youth.

Human Rights Watch spoke to numerous members of Kalenjin commmunities around Eldoret who provided similar accounts. In many communities, local leaders and ODM mobilizers arranged frequent meetings following the election to organize, direct and facilitate the violence unleashed by gangs of local youth. In one case, an ODM councillor candidate is said to have provided a lorry to ferry youth to burn the homes of Kikuyu families in a neighboring community.

Many Kalenjin community leaders told Human Rights Watch that if the area’s ODM leadership or the local Kalenjin radio station KASS FM told people unequivically to stop attacks on Kikuyu homes, then they believe the violence would stop. “If the leaders say stop, it will stop immediately,” said one Kalenjin elder.

Human Rights Watch also collected accounts from several Kalenjin men present at community meetings where local elders and ODM mobilizers urged Kalenjin residents to contribute money toward the purchase of automatic weapons. Some communities have reportedly managed to obtain such weapons already. The same sources confirmed that plans have already been made to attack camps of displaced Kikuyu and the two remaining neighborhoods in Eldoret town where many Kikuyu homes remain intact – Langas and Munyaka.

The Kenyan police are already investigating responsibility for the violence in the Rift Valley, but its forces are overstretched by the nationwide electoral crisis. In the light of apparent plans by some groups to attack camps for internally displaced persons, Human Rights Watch called on the Kenyan police to ensure that all locations of displaced people are adequately protected against attack. Fourteen displaced Kikuyu and Kisii people sheltering in a monastery in Kipkelion were killed last week in an attack by Kalenjin warriors. The sprawling tent camp in Eldoret is now home to more than 10,000 displaced persons, with only a light police presence to protect them. Any attack on the camp would likely prove disastrous. Other equally vulnerable camps have been set up in other areas.

“The murder of people sheltering at a monastery in Kipkelion illustrates the need for better police protection of displaced people,” said Gagnon. “Protecting the thousands of vulnerable people chased from their homes across the Rift Valley from further attack should be a priority for the Kenyan police.”

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Uhuru Park Rally Called Off

Odinga has called off the mass action meant to take place today in Uhuru Park. It has now been rescheduled for next Tuesday (according to Kenyan press, but the international media are saying it will take place tomorrow). News in the UK is showing crowds of people still trying to get into the city with GSU firing live rounds into the air, using water cannon and there’s plenty of tear gas around. Riot police were determined to keep the residents of Kibera from leaving the slum and residents played cat and mouse with them. This will all be repeated again tomorrow if the government refuse to allow the rally to take place.

Attorney General Amos Wako has called for an independent review of the Kenya election. “It is necessary … that a proper tally of the valid certificates returned and confirmed should be undertaken immediately on a priority basis by an agreed and independent person or body.”

Thomson Holidays is flying planes out to Kenya to airlift tourists. All major tour operators have suspended flights to Kenya.

In Nairobi mounted police baton charged crowds of supporters. ODM supporters interviewed by a BBC reporter say that they are ready to die for their rights and this is described as their right to be given their President, Raila Odinga. ODM supporters say they voted for change and not to see the corrupt Kibaki government get into power again through a stolen election.

Thousands of ODM supporters were seen carrying branches symbolizing their peaceful intentions as they tried to get to Uhuru Park. Riot Police are beating the protestors. A witness who described being beaten by the police and had suffered a broken arm described seeing an ODM supporter shot dead and his body removed by the police.

Other demonstrations have taken place around the country including Mombasa where there have been running battles with police.

150 cars escorted out of Eldoret under military convoy but with the vigilante road-blocks in the region there are fears that they will not get far. The people had been waiting for 24 hours to leave. Shops have been torched.

Kisumu, the heartland of Odinga’s support, is facing a humanitarian disaster as food runs out and in Rift Valley Kikuyus who have been displaced by the violence are similarly facing a crisis. The Kenya Red Cross have been handling the situation. A UN representative on BBC Radio 4 says that the road blocks in the Rift Valley were cleared yesterday, so supplies are now starting to reach the region.

Earlier reports say that the situation is still tense in and around Eldoret…

At the East African University of Baraton, a seventh-day Adventist college near the Rift Valley town of Kapsabet, terrified Kikuyus were trapped on the campus with close to 200 foreign students and staff.

Outside the gates, warriors from the Kalenjin tribe, which largely supported Mr Odinga, laid siege.

“We have no food but if I try to go outside I know they will kill me,” said Julia, a 21-year-old Kikuyu student.

They have lists with the names of the people they want dead. They have already killed many. If we are not evacuated, God knows what will happen tomorrow.”

Across the country, food was running out in many places – none more so than in Kisumu, where thousands desperately queued at the handful of shops that dared to open.

“A big disaster is looming in the next 24 hours,” said the district commissioner. “There will be no food by tomorrow. Kisumu is a food deficit area and we can’t get supplies in because of the security situation.”

Raila Odinga declares himself the winner

To the dismay of myself and many other Kenyans Raila Odinga has declared himself the winner of the Kenyan elections and promised to set up a parallel government and has called for his supporters to come out in force at his inauguration to show that Kenyans reject the decision of the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

The inauguration ceremony has been set for 2.00 p.m. in Uhuru Park tomorrow, which has also coincidentally been declared a public holiday by Kibaki. The rumour mill suggests that Odinga and other big wheels have been arrested, following a ruling that the inauguration ceremony has been declared illegal. Although Kumekucha who has so far been spot on with his reports of what is happening on the ground in Kenya has not reported this. Earlier in the day he had said he was leaving the city with Odinga’s convoy so as to get through the security checks, I’d expect him of all people to know and broadcast this loudly should it be true.

In a statement from the Police Commissioner’s office, Odinga and supporters were warned that ‘After due consideration of the prevailing security situation the meeting is illegal and any person who will attempt to attend this meeting will face the full force of the law.’

In the meantime the government has placed a ban on all live media broadcasts, ostensibly to prevent a planned ODM conference in which voting irregularities were going to be discussed live on air. All negative media images of Kenya have also been banned.