I feel much trepidation this week for Kenya. Former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, with Graca Machel, the wife of Nelson Mandela, and the former Tanzanian president, Benjamin Mkapa arrive Tuesday to mediate between President Kibaki and his opposition, Raila Odinga, over the contested election, but it will likely do little good.
According to the article “Kenyan Minister Spurns Annan Intervention” by Matthew Weaver, Haroon Siddique and agencies at the Guardian Unlimited (14 Jan 2008), the President’s cabinet says there is nothing to discuss:
“If Kofi Annan is coming, he’s not coming at our invitation,” Michuki told Reuters. “As far as we are concerned, we won an election we don’t have a problem to be solved here.”
John Michuki was named as president Mwai Kibaki’s road and works minister last week, when Kibaki enraged the opposition by appointing half his cabinet as peace talks were due to begin.
Kibaki has found his election results hotly contested to date by Odinga, the UK, the US, and the UN. Adding fuel to the fire, ChinaDaily: World Africa says in “Kenyan President Lost Election – US Exit Poll” (15 Jan 2008):
According to An exit poll carried out on behalf of a US government-backed foundation indicates that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki was defeated in last month’s disputed election rather than being re-elected as he claims, according to officials with knowledge of the document.
The poll by the Washington-based International Republican Institute — which hasn’t been publicly released- further undermines an election result that many international observers have described as flawed.
To contest the election, Odinga has called for three days of nation-wide protests slated to begin on Wednesday, insisting that citizens must rally against the theivery of their voice, their vote, and his presidency.
If Kibaki seems like the bad guy here, Odinga has had his hand in the bee hive stirring things up as well. According to “Kenya Violence Planned Before Election” by Nick Wadhams in the San Franciso Gate (13 Jan 2008):
Interviews with politicians, humanitarian aid workers and dozens of people on both sides of the conflict suggest that much of the violence, which has killed at least 400 people so far, was planned beforehand and highly organized…
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which accused several prominent politicians of stirring up tribal hatred before the vote, says the violence is well organized.
“We say it’s organized because they are working in groups of 10 to 15 people and in shifts. Their training areas have been identified, some of the people from whom they get money have been identified,” commission chairwoman Muthoni Wanyeki told the Associated Press. “They are being paid 500 (shillings, or $8) per burning (a home) and 1,000 per death.”
This report is chilling in its depiction of lacking political value placed upon civilian lives. It also systematically unveils the overgeneralized international accusations of tribalism among citizens by revealing that 70 deaths occured pre-election. This violence was premeditated by what is assumed to be Odinga’s camp as the Kikuyu tribe, one superficially connected with Kibaki,?is being targeted.
I worry for the rally slated to begin on Wednesday at the insistent urging of Odinga. According to the AP article, “Death toll in Kenya reaches 575” [now closer to 700] (14 Jan 2008), these citizens will endanger their lives with the unofficial “shoot to kill” policy against protesters:
Witnesses in Nairobi reported unarmed civilians hit by police gunfire, including a woman hit by stray bullets penetrating the wall of her home; a man shot in the leg, and a boy shot in the chest while watching a protest from the door of his home, the group said.
Human Rights Watch quoted an unnamed Kenyan police source as telling monitors: “Many of us are unhappy with what we are being asked to do. This ‘shoot to kill’ policy is illegal, and it is not right. We have brothers and sisters, sons and daughters out there.”
I implore you. Take care, dear Kenya. Another round of violence is far more than likely.
Remember, Ushahidi.com is at your disposal to report outbreaks of violence and to help direct aid.