Posts Tagged 'Eldoret'

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.”

more…

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Weapons of Political Control

nobel securite

Kenya Juu! posted this pic on flickr of a tear gas cannister made by Nobel Securite fired at demonstrators on 3rd January 2008. The UK government cancelled all licenses for the export of tear gas to Kenya in 1997 but France has stepped in to fill the vacuum. It was used on French demonstrators last May and its effects are described here as nausea, dizziness, chest pain, headaches, pains in organs and joints.

In its third report to the French parliament (2001), the Ministry of Defence admitted that Article 2 of the EU Code of Conduct mandates all EU member states to exercise control over the exports of non-military goods susceptible of being used for repression purposes or other human rights abuses. However, the goods involved do not fit into the French category of military goods or into the category of military-civilian dual use goods, and are therefore considered to be civilian goods to be regulated at the European level. A recently proposed European Commission Trade Regulation will, if enacted unamended, ban the import, export and brokering by companies and individuals of items that the Commission has categorised as “torture equipment” including electro-shock stun belts, leg irons, thumb-cuffs and shackles. It will also require member states to introduce controls on exports of stun batons, stun guns and riot control agents such as tear gas.


Amnesty International

Check out this blog – Kwani? – which features articles by Kenyans on the post-election Kenyan crisis. Theres an article on Burnt Forest that made me cry over the “senselessness” of it all. The young Kalenjin men who carried out these acts of violence against their neighbours talk candidly about what they have done.

It’s actually not senseless at all but a deliberate policy by an elite faction who seeing all hope of gaining control of The Office Of The President now think that control of a powerful support base in the Rift Valley will allow it to continue to bargain with the government from a position of strength. It should be relatively easy to identify who they all are.

The other elite faction presently ensconced in State House is absolutely determined not to let go of power whatever the cost. They have far too much to lose and don’t care one jot about Kenya or democracy. Blatant election irregularities and the ensuing arrogance of Kibaki loyalists as a country spirals into lawlessness has been unbearable to watch.

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Villagers say fliers told Kikuyus to get out of town

  • William Ruto named as instigator behind politically motivated ethnic cleansing.
  • Witnesses say the men were given 500 Kenyan shillings (about $7) to torch a house and sometimes more to kill a man.
  • The attackers relied on neighbors of their victims to point out the homes to be torched.
  • Some homes had been marked with paint. Those belonging to Kikuyus were destroyed; those belonging to others were left standing.

Kenya killings raise specter of wider ethnic bloodbath

By Nick Wadhams

Sunday, January 13, 2008

MOLO, Kenya — David Njenga remembers how the attackers arrived on trucks just after New Year’s Day and set fire to his village’s thatch-roofed houses. The young and the fast, including Njenga, managed to hide. Watching from behind a bush, he saw four old men hacked to death with machetes.

“They were killed as I watched,” Njenga recalled from a church in Molo, where hundreds of people fled from the violence that has hit Kenya since Dec. 27’s disputed election. “They killed the old people, those who could not run away. We ran away; we left those old men, so they killed them.”

Children play at a church that has been turned into a refugee camp for at least 8,000 people in Eldoret, Kenya. Unrest began after last month’s presidential election.

Stories like Njenga’s have become common in Molo and several other towns across western Kenya since President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of a vote that international observers have said was flawed.

The tribal nature of the violence has raised fears of a Rwanda-style genocide.

“We’ve had a long history of ethnic violence in Kenya that has been politically manipulated since the 1992 and 1997 elections,” said Binaifer Nowrojee, director of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa. “Events of the last two weeks show how rapidly we can deteriorate, and that’s what’s scaring everybody. The danger is that we can become Rwanda, but we’re not there yet.”

Opposition leaders in Kenya have described the violence as a spontaneous outburst from people furious about the election.

However, interviews with dozens of people such as Njenga, as well as politicians, humanitarian workers and church officials, suggest that much of the violence, which has killed at least 500 people, was planned beforehand.

Attacks like the one witnessed by Njenga have exposed some of the deep fault lines in Kenyan society that had largely been ignored by the outside world as the country emerged from 24 years of autocracy under President Daniel arap Moi, who long exploited ethnic divisions among Kenya’s 42 tribes to retain power.

North of Molo, in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret, at least 100,000 people have fled their homes because of the recent violence.

Most of the victims in the area are members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu ethnic group. The president has been accused of favoritism, bestowing jobs and land upon Kikuyus.

The attackers are supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga and come from several other Kenyan tribes. Around Molo, they are mostly ethnic Luo and Kalenjin, who say they have been shortchanged for decades.

Villagers say fliers that told Kikuyus to get out of town were scattered near their homes.

Then, young men arrived by truck and fanned out, ready for violence.

Witnesses say the men were given 500 Kenyan shillings (about $7) to torch a house and sometimes more to kill a man.

The attackers relied on neighbors of their victims to point out the homes to be torched.

Some homes had been marked with paint. Those belonging to Kikuyus were destroyed; those belonging to others were left standing.

“They started spreading leaflets saying the Kikuyus had 24 hours to go,” said Sammy Kamau, a 29-year-old high school teacher who voted for Kibaki. “My house was burned.”

“Before the elections, we were told that people will be chased away from the region,” said Waiharo Kimani, 37, who had fled his home near the town of Keringet. “So when the president won, they took that as a reason to push us away. It was planned years before.”

One of the main instigators, witnesses say, was a man named William Ruto, a key adviser to Odinga.

They say he held rallies before the election and told his supporters to kick out Kikuyus if his party lost.

Ruto has also been cited by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as someone who should be prosecuted for propagating hate speech.

At a news conference, Ruto said he thought that the key issue of the election was the equitable distribution of resources but denied inciting ethnic violence.

“I consider anybody who says that we did say anything to the effect that anybody should leave their homes absolute rubbish because there are no statements that we made along that line,” Ruto said.

Samuel Ciuga, 40, is the pastor of the Apostolic Faith Church in Molo. At least 250 people have been living in his church compound for weeks after fleeing election-related violence.

Ciuga saw the same thing during elections in 1992, 1997 and 2002.

Each time, the church opened its doors to those fleeing the violence.

“This church is like the home of the refugees,” Ciuga said. “Even our members, most of them are refugees.”
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Eyewitnesses Describe Situation in Eldoret and Kibera

Believe me, the death count that you are reading in the newspaper, actually it is over ten times this. The attack has been undertaken all around Eldoret. All around. All the farms, all the villages. If one time, it would be possible to have a death count, we are not talking of hundreds, we are talking of thousands.

A blog called 8 months in Kenya that has been following the situation closely in Kenya, recently put up two interviews with a Kikuyu businessman in Eldoret and a Luo resident of Kibera which reveals the human cost of what is happening right now in Kenya better than anything I have read anywhere else to date.

For those who exhibit complacency about what is happening in Eldoret and elsewhere with statements like “it’s not yet genocide” these interviews are necessary reading. We should respect the experience of people who are describing what they have seen and investigate who is instigating this violence and ACT to stop it now.

That’s not going to happen when people are unwilling to call genocide ethnic cleansing by its name. How many people have to die before we can officially call it genocide ethnic cleansing? It was precisely this quibbling that prevented the UN and US from naming what was taking place in Rwanda and then acting in time to prevent the situation from worsening, in the full glare of the media I million people were killed.

I have read eyewitness accounts which are saying that the people doing the killing are strangers, not known to anyone in the area while in other reports in the media people in Eldoret and Kibera know who is doing it. In an earlier Telegraph article a Kikuyu student in Eldoret says the Kalenjin camped outside her university ” 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.” Kenyans on the ground need to contact the police in Eldoret to make sure the students at the East African University of Baratonse are protected.

The first interview is with a Kikuyu businessman named Patrick whose family have been living in Eldoret for over 60 years and who were forced to flee the area.

What was the situation when you left?

The situation in Eldoret is pathetic. It is systematic annihalation of tribe, in my opinion. It actually took God to make it to the airport. Along the way, we were attacked by the Kalenkin warriors but through God’s grace and because we had requested a police escort, we barely made it through. But in the convoy that we were in, we almost lost one car. But through God’s grace, we made it to the airport. It’s been hell. I can say that.

When did you know you had to leave?

Actually, we knew that we would have wanted to have stayed because we were born and bred in Eldoret. My parents moved into Eldoret way back in 1940. So we don’t know anywhere else as home, apart from that place.

But when we realized that this had moved from the ODM, PNU conflict to something much deeper, and that the presidential elections had been used as an excuse for something else to be implemented, [for] the Kalenjins to get rid of the Kikuyus, that’s when we realized that we had to move out. That was the day before yesterday.

How did you leave?

We had to request our friends in Nairobi to come to our aid by chartering a plane because we could not access money and we didn’t have the kind of money that is needed to charter a plane. Our friends here in Nairobi came together and raised the money.

“It’s whoever gets out, gets out.”

Who have you left behind?

Our family is quite large. What I managed to do is to get my immediate family, my wife and my children but I have left my cousins, I have left my brothers. I am trying to communicated with my brothers to see if they can join us. But the situation is so bad that we can not say that we have to move as the whole clan. We are several hundred. We have lost several members in the conflict.

We have another small batch of relatives at the airport. They might make it today or tomorrow. We don’t know. We are still working on getting the ones who are in town because you can not get to the airport without escort. It’s an enormous challenge that we don’t’ know how far we can go because the resources needed to charter this plane are enormous. It costs between 170,000 to 320,000 Kenya shillings to charter a 19-seater.

I told you that my family is expansive. I lost two of my relatives in an area, very young boys. But what was even more disheartening, was my grandmother. She has a farm in Burnt Forest. When the clashes began, they left their homes and they went to a school, the whole village. The school was surrounded by the warriors. Any second, they could have attacked the school and finished them. We cried to the police and the police did send some policemen. The warriors still insisted that they wanted to kill these people. The police brokered a deal. [The people had to walk 20 KM to the nearest town, without getting anything from their homes.] Those villagers are trapped in a small town. We can’t get them food and we can’t get them to Eldoret town. They can’t come out.

“We really fear that there might be a massacre in Eldoret in the next few days.”

Patrick’s wife Ruth chimes in…

There is great fear in Eldoret town because people are being pushed into one central place, at the police station and at the church. What we have seen is that they are coming now and burning the churches at the outskirts. So far, we know that three churches have been burned and they have blocked all the exits out of town such that you can not get out of Eldoret town. So there is that great fear: why are we being pushed to the center for town? What is the intention?

What we have seen in the outskirts, the violence is so much. There is no precedent for it. In 1992, in 1997, it was not this fierce [during past land clashes]. So there is that great fear among the Kikuyu community in Eldoret. Why are we being put in one central place and we can not get out? So we really fear that there might be a massacre in Eldoret in the next few days.
Nation_cover

You are holding quite a picture on the cover of that paper…? [As we were talking, Patrick was holding a copy of today’s paper in his hand. On the cover was a photo of a woman wailing outside the burnt shell of the church in Eldoret where a group of sheltering Kikuyus were killed.]

This is a very sad moment. When I made it to Nairobi and I was able to get this paper. One of my families live next to this church that was burned. Over 70 children and women were killed in this church [Media and official reports of the numbers vary widely]. It’s barely a kilometer from where some of my relatives live. It means that some of my relatives, I don’t know, maybe some were caught up in there. But so far we believe they are not caught up there.

This is a very good example of what we are talking about. We know that historically, people have warred. They have always tribe versus tribe, for many reasons, some petty, some reasonable. But we know that the house of God is a place that, across the world, people respect. According to the African culture, children and women are not killed. We also know that the Kalenjin warriors, according to their culture, because we have lived with them, they don’t kill women or children.

So when it comes to a point whereby they go to a house of God where children and women are taking refuge and they kill them there, this is taking the conflict to another level that we believe is not the presidential race.

How surprised are you by what’s happened?

I am shocked. I know the Kalenjin, they are warlike. We know, we live with them, that they have those regiments, they have warriors. But we know that they are also very peace-loving people, we know that we have inter-married with them. This is why it is very shocking that it has gone to this level.

When there was this conflict that the presidential race was unfair, rigging had taken place, we definitely expected some outcry. We definitely expected some people marching. It’s not the first time. In Kenya’s we’ve had land clashed, 1992, 1997. It’s not like it’s something that is new to us. But the level that this has been taking…

Believe me, the death count that you are reading in the newspaper, actually it is over ten times this. The attack has been undertaken all around Eldoret. All around. All the farms, all the villages. If one time, it would be possible to have a death count, we are not talking of hundreds, we are talking of thousands.

What long-term effect do you think this conflict might have in Eldoret and in the country as a whole?

We know what has happened in other countries. We know what has happened in Bosnia, what has happened in Rwanda. Let’s not lie to ourselves that maybe there will not be retaliation.

In Rwanda, when the Hutus killed the Tutsis, it was fun until the tables turned and the Tutsis started killing the Hutus. We all know how many millions have died there. The reality is that, definitely, even if it is not me, there are people who are pained. You never know, it might take ten years, and an opportunity will occur for them to revenge. You never know, anything will trigger it.

Right now, the Kikuyus might be killed and everybody is excited and it’s fine and it cools down. And even Kibaki can say he has given up the seat and it is fine, it cools down. But an opportunity one time will present itself and this will not be forgotten.

What needs to happen to build peace?

We are peace-loving country and God-fearing. It is said that over 80 percent of Kenyans are Christians. Even one of the things that came up in the campaign period was the issue of whether the leaders were Christians. Raila said he is a staunch Christian. President Kibaki said he is a staunch Catholic Christian. But I am asking, where are these pastors? Where are these pastors in Eldoret, Kalenjin pastors? Where is this Christianity?

I am shocked that pastors that had been preaching for us to be god-fearing, they are not coming out to condemn this. They are quiet as the work is being done. And when maybe everybody is down, they will come to bury us and say a very good prayer.

Because in my opinion, there is an opportunity for the church to rise above politics and take its position. How come this Christianity is not playing a role here? Why can’t I hear a Kalenjin bishop or a Kalenjin father or a Kalenjin pastor or a Kalenjin Imam, for that matter, coming out and saying”No, our religion forbids killing women and children.” If it’s men, it’s another issue. You can claim they are combatants. And in any war, combatants die. But I don’t believe Christianity or Islam would agree for children and women to be killed in the house of God.

So peace-building, the church has to begin. Right now we don’t trust the political leadership. I want to confess and say, I have not seen Kibaki coming out to speak strongly about it. I want to tell you, I think Raila has said he is not concerned unless Kibaki resigns. The person who is the leader in our area, he is just quiet.

So before the politicians can even sit, I would like to see the church coming out and putting their feet down. That is the first thing.

The second thing, as we are speaking, you might get a report that the war has cooled down. But we have thousands of people camped at the police station and church compounds and they are starving to death. So as much as they were not pierced by the arrows at their farms, they are dying slowly.

If nothing is done for that, you will be lying to people, saying that there is peace.

When there are two warring parties, it always takes a third party to come in and give reason. What we are observing is the international community being silent. We know that the international community is knowing what is happening. They are taking it lightly. We know the same mistake was done in Rwanda, whereby the Rwandese started killing eachother, they cried out to the international community. The international community ignored them until up to a million Rwandans were dead.

The same story is being repeated in Eldoret. This is genocide being done in Eldoret.

Edwin is an 18-year-old Luo man living with his mother and two sisters in Kibera. They live in one of the poorest and oldest neighborhoods in the 700-thousand person slum.

What has been happening for the past couple of days?

After the elections, that place was very, very much disrupted, places burned, looted. Olympic shopping center, it is all down. Burned and everything taken. They started entering the estates now. No people are living there now.

Where is everybody staying?

They are starting to look at where they can get peace. Down in the slums, all people are forced out or else your house is burned. They just tell you, “You are the ones who voted Kibaki in, you are now enjoying. So, instead of enjoying and we are crying, you also, you will cry.” So they burn your house.

Yesterday things were calm, but shops were still closed. One supermarket is open but [they are only allowing two people in at a time]. Yesterday, we went to look if we could get something to eat there. But all the vegetables were finished and we were only allowed to take two packets of flour, at most. Sugar, you are only allowed to take one packet, two kilograms.

Where are you staying right now?

We are just staying down there, at the slums, Soweto. But when people are out, we have to be out. No matter the cold or whatever because that is the only way to secure your home and your properties. You have to light fire outside your house and sit out.

How are you getting by?

The last two days, after elections, we had to live with just water because there was no food. We weren’t prepared for the chaos. Yesterday we managed to get two packets of flour and people were selling vegetables. And yet, it was expensive. It brings a lot of problems.

What do you think the next few days will bring?

It’s good when people are left to go on with that rally and sort everything out. If the government stops it, it will be much more [chaos] than this. People were just quiet because of what the opposition leader said, people should be calm because they will meet on Thursday. But again yesterday the government spokesman said that they won’t be allowed in Uhuru Park. That will bring chaos here, if they are not allowed, the anger will continue. People might live like refugees in their own countries.

What have you heard about rapes and violence in Kibera?

Rapes are many because some people are taking advantage of opportunities that now people are scattered. In our area, two girls were raped. One was in a critical condition and had to be rushed to the hospital.

Some Kikuyus are being thrown out of their houses down there. People are grabbing those houses. In the process of grabbing the houses, people find themselves fighting for that also. It is one house and almost ten people want to grab that house, so they fight themselves again.

That rape case, it’s hard. Because at night, people are out, you don’t know what is going on. Lights were off. We were in blackout. It’s dark. In the morning, you find somebody was killed, two girls were raped, Even mothers, even old grandmothers, just raped.

How surprised are you by what is going on?

I’ve never seen or experienced such kind of thing. I’ve seen elections, but this one is terrible.

How much is this about politics and how much is this about tribalism?

Politics, this one, it is tribal. People expected that there will be a change and people wanted really a change. Considering what the president said last term… it’s a five-year term and nothing was achieved except free primary education. So as we talk politically, this thing is politically oriented. People wanted a change this time yet they didn’t get it.

When we talk about tribes… I don’t think so. In Eldoret, there’s another tribe. In Nyanza, there’s another. In Coast, there is another tribe. You find all places, people are fighting. So you can’t say that this tribe doesn’t like this tribe or whatever.

But down here in Kibera, Kikuyus don’t have a chance, truly speaking. Kikuyus are just thrown out, their things grabbed. Whether they have kids, they don’t care, they just throw you out.

You are a young man, you are probably going to be living in Kenya for the rest of your life. What concern do you have that people’s behaviour now might hurt the future of the country and your future with it?

How people are behaving and how I have seen things down there, it will take about three months now if people want to be back to normal. To build up that estate again, it will take people at least a year. Everything is destroyed.

But in the future, this thing is going to effect Kenya. Children are going to be left orphans, fatherless because of how people are fighting.

This thing, also, politically, is going to effect Kenya. Now politicians, instead of coming up with something that will help, they are trying to build on their own interest. They don’t want to see that Kenyans’s lives are at stake.

Who needs to make peace?

I would like the government, if they know that they won it fairly, they should prove it, re-tally the election. Even dialog will not help, because people wanted a change. Dialog between the President and the Opposition Leader won’t help. It’s not their Kenya. Kenya is not two people, the Opposition Leader and the President. They should re-tally. And if everything is OK, and people see that this is a fair election, not a rigged election, the situation will calm down.


Addendum:
What is the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs doing? Contact their E.A. offices in Kenya on +254207622119 and ask them to act as observers and help Kenyans now.

Kibaki Might Be Forced To Step Down

Attorney General Amos Wako has waived the demand that an election petition must be presented to an election court before a constitutionally-elected President can be forced to stand down.

He said the crisis facing Kenya was of a political nature that required a political solution without the express demand for a legal obstacle.

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki might be forced to stand down following Thursday’s order by the East African nation’s Attorney-General, Amos Wako, for a re-tabulation of the presidential vote, which saw him re-elected Sunday.

The vote tallying would preferably be done by an independent team of experts, who will be required to examine the election documents to detect cases of fraud, re-tally the votes and present their findings.

“The level of violence has never before been witnessed in our country,” Wako conceded as protesters battled with the police after they were denied access to the venue of Thursday’s opposition rally.

In a five-point statement, the Attorney-General said the level of violent protests witnessed in Kenya Thursday, a week after Kenyans went to the ballot to elect a new president, might get out of control forever unless precautionary measures were taken.

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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 Agrees To Participate In An Interim Govt

Odinga has dropped the preconditions he set earlier in which he insisted Kibaki resign before talks be held between the two camps and he now states that he is prepared to participate in an interim government. This intermim government is to last no more than three months after which a new poll should be held. An independent body is to monitor the process and not the ECK which is now seen to thoroughly discredited, particularly in the light of Chairman Samuel Kivuite’s revelations the night before last.

However nobody in Kibaki’s PNU seemed to be listening. Vice-President Moody Awori came out and said in response, “Democracy has its institutions and structures. I am not telling you anything you don’t know. You know more than I do. These institutions and structures must be upheld and respected. ECK is one. The Judiciary is another. They must be used at all times and not selectively. That is the law”. Thereby giving the ECK his personal stamp of endorsement.

This was followed by Uhuru, the Gatundu South MP-elect and Kanu chairman declaring “We won the elections and whoever feels aggrieved should go to court and we will be available for response. It’s not our responsibility to initiate dialogue.”

As Kenyan Jurist says, the courts are not an option

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?

Unbelievable that it has come to this. As somebody said elsewhere, this is not the time for brinkmanship but statesmanship.

While both sides circle around each other, government privately financed militia are killing people in Eldoret (how else to explain the mysterious arrival of two C130 planes at Eldoret Airport on 31st December and the ensuing massacres and burning of people’s home leading to the displacement of 100,000 people as reported by the Red Cross and the subsequent failure of Kibaki or whoever is running the country to send in the army to provide security and humanitarian relief to the people?) and then there is the senseless killing of Luos in Kisumu by Ugandan GSU, as they flee without warning shots being fired. Journalists have reported seeing in the Kisumu mortuary bodies of people shot in the back. And the killing is indiscriminate.

CORRECTION: