Posts Tagged 'Electoral Commission of Kenya'

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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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:

Eldoret Calmer Today

Afromusing has posted a series of photos on her blog showing life in Eldoret. The situation is calmer although people are leaving in droves and in convoy. She reports that the food situation there is not dire with some supermarkets open and cash machines are working and dispensing a maximum of Kshs 400. Because of roadblocks friends of hers were stuck in Ndalat and narrowly escaped being macheted.

These are not conventional roadblocks, they are manned by desperate youth who ask for your id, and also for money. There is a guy who parted with ksh1500 between town and the airport.
-Friends telling a kikuyu friend pole (sorry) because his house was burned. The thing is the people doing the burning are not even known to the people in the area, they are coming in from other places. I feel sick about this whole mess, cant even get myself to type the tribes kikuyu, kalenjin etc when typing this post. people are people. Because we are supposed to be ONE KENYA, this is shocking and utterly…shit, i cant find the word.

Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet confirms that up to 30 checkpoints have been set up by vigilante groups between Burnt Forest and Eldoret .

“If you are not of the right ethnic group, it’s no go,” explained the Red Cross official.

“People are being targeted and it is known which ethnic group is being targeted,” said Gullet. When asked to clarify, he said in the areas he visited, “it’s largely the Kikuyu ethnic group that’s being targeted.”

Afromusing laments that the turmoil the region is undergoing is more complex than ethnicity. The people who are doing this are not known in the area.

Shock, dissapointment – cant believe that this is happening. Its more complicated than just kalenjin vs kikuyu, people have intermarried…we are supposed to be ONE Kenya. The gains made over the yrs, economic and social etc, down the drain for what?!

Why isn’t Kibaki providing security?

Ethnicity alone is not the cause of conflict in the region and past experience shows that where it has arisen it has been politically engineered.

ethnic clashes, wherever they have taken place in Kenya …have been instigated by the fear of loss of political power and the consequences that might accompany such an eventuality such as loss of priviledge and the patronage that goes with it. In this regard it has been noted elsewhere that the only distinct pattern that emerges from the ethnic clashes is that they appear to be connected to political tension in the body politic (W.R. February 6, 98: 8). This is informed by the fact that the Rift Valley clashes took place when the political atmosphere in the country was highly charged due to external and internal pressure for political pluralism … immediately after the 1997 elections, violence erupted again in Kikuyu strongholds in Rift Valley province, i.e. Laikipia and Nakuru districts that were seen as a means to counter the legal challenge mounted against the election of Moi by opposition leader Mwai Kibaki.

The use of the state as an instrument of material acquisition has meant that those who have benefited over the years from the structure of access have used every trick available, including mobilizing ethnic support as happened in Rift Valley in particular, to sustain the regime in power.

If indeed the State through some of its key actors were responsible for the initiation and manipulation of the clashes for selfish ends, then the whole question of finding a lasting solution to the problems becomes a remote proposition. This is because it would not be in the interest of the instigators of such violence that a solution be found. One cannot help but reach such a conclusion especially considering how the government has handled the findings of the Akiwumi Commission _ a judicial commission which was set up in 1998 to inquire into the causes of the ethnic clashes in various parts of the country and recommend actions to be taken against the perpetrators. (Oyugi. W.O 2000)

more here (pdf)

Work Cited:
Oyugi W.O., 2000, Politicised Ethnic Conflict in Kenya: A Periodic Phenomenon, Addis