Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's Headlines - 1/28/2008

Dear Friends:

There is, unfortunately, much news out of Kenya from the past weekend--more violence in Nakuru and Naivasha, in particular.

It seems the waves of IDPs (refugees, internally displaced people) moving eastward are prompting reprisals--attacks and counter-attacks by rival ethnic groups.

The government--police and army--has been unable to contain and subdue the violence, and militias have been forming among citizens, raising concerns that the violence is not at all spontaneous, but provoked and organized by more powerful political figures.

Please scan the headlines below for an overview of the current developments in the deteriorating situation in the Rift Valley. Share this information with your Friends Church or Quaker Meeting and consider taking action to support the majority of Kenyans who long for a peaceful solution to the current conflicts.

Better news from Kenyan Friends, out of the Peace Conference in Kakamega, in previous posts. Click on any of the links in the first box on the right sidebar to learn more about the proceedings and resolutions formed by participants in the Quaker Peace Conference. Feel free to circulate these documents!

Be blessed,

Mary Kay Rehard


Annan pushes for peace as Kenyan deaths rise


KOFI Annan pushed for peace and dialogue in Kenya yesterday as ethnic violence spread in western regions of the country, bringing the death toll since protests erupted over disputed December presidential elections to more than 850.

In the latest outbreak of violence, nine people were killed as gangs of youths wreaked havoc in a slum district of the lakeside town Naivasha, raising the death toll in the western Rift Valley province alone to 116 since Thursday night.

A national police commander said earlier that at least 17 people were killed overnight in the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Timboroa.

Bodies in the morgues and hospitals of the provincial capital Nakuru had arrow and machete wounds.

Annan, the former UN chief, met with opposition leader Raila Odinga at a Nairobi hotel as police gathered the charred and hacked remains of victims of the most recent clashes in the west.

Besides the more than 850 people killed in a wave of deadly rioting and ethnic killings, some 260000 people across the country have been forced to flee their homes.

Full story from Dispatch Online (South Africa)

Police face riots in west Kenya

There is a stand-off in Naivasha following dreadful violence
Tribal riots

Police are struggling to restore order in western Kenya, amid a recent wave of violence linked to disputed elections.

Riots were continuing in the towns of Naivasha and Nakuru, where dozens of people have been killed in five days of ethnic violence.

Police arrested 150 people in the towns, accused of murder and arson.

Meanwhile former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is trying to mediate in the crisis, has called for the army to be deployed.

The national death toll since December's polls is now nearly 800.

Members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe have been fighting with Luos and Kalenjins who backed his rival Raila Odinga in the election a month ago.

Mr Odinga accuses Mr Kibaki of stealing the vote and has refused to recognise the result.

Much of the weekend's violence centred on Nakuru, Kenya's fourth largest city, and Naivasha, some 60km (37 miles) south.

But before they got out of the house, they met a crowd waiting for them Antony, 35 Teacher, Naivasha

The BBC's Adam Mynott in Nairobi says Naivasha, which witnessed scenes of depraved brutality on Sunday, is once again a battle ground between rival ethnic communities.

However, police have managed to prevent the situation from getting completely out of control, by firing live rounds over the heads of rioters.

But heavily armed youths are continuing to threaten each other.

Red Cross workers had been bracing themselves for the grim task of counting the dead from the weekend's violence.

They said they could not establish a proper toll until they had searched the charred remains of burnt houses after a day on which at least 19 people died.

Earlier there were riots in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where two people were reported killed.

Members of the Luo and Luhya tribes have been targeting Kikuyus in what looks like revenge for what happened in the Rift Valley over the weekend.

"We want to show our anger at the killing of our people," Fred Onyango, a demonstrator, told news agency AFP.

But the protests turned violent, with reports of shops and vehicles set ablaze and barricades set up in the streets.

Political deadlock
There has also been violence and houses have been burned in Kakamega in western Kenya and Eldoret in the Rift Valley.

In Eldoret, which experienced some of the worst violence immediately after the election result, there are reports that all the major roads leading out of the town have been blocked by protesters.

Separately, two Germans were hacked to death with machetes at a resort south of Mombasa, in an incident involving a robbery and apparently unconnected with the ethnic violence.

Mr Annan is due to meet Mr Kibaki again. While Kenya's leader says he is open to talks, he has refused to countenance Mr Odinga's demand for fresh elections.

Mr Annan - who on Saturday travelled to the Rift Valley to meet victims of the violence - has been working to try to overcome the political deadlock.

He met Mr Odinga on Sunday, and afterwards opposition spokesman Salim Lone said each side had been asked to name three negotiators to participate in talks, which he said would hopefully start "within a week", according to Associated Press.

Full story from BBC

Kenya's Rift Valley burns as death toll soars

Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:21am EST
By Tim Cocks and David Lewis

NAIVASHA, Kenya (Reuters) - Protests erupted in western Kenya and machete-wielding mobs faced off in the Rift Valley on Monday after scores of people were killed in ethnic violence, complicating mediation by former U.N. boss Kofi Annan.

In the normally peaceful Rift Valley town of Nakuru, a mortuary worker said on Monday that 64 bodies were lying in the morgue, all victims of the past four days of ethnic fighting.

Gangs from rival communities have been fighting each other with machetes, clubs, and bows and arrows in Nakuru and nearby Naivasha, both famous for their lakes teeming with wildlife.

In the worst incident of the latest flare-up, 19 people were burned to death locked inside a house in Naivasha on Sunday, police officer Grace Kakai told Reuters.

The total death toll is now more than 800.

The violence since Kenya's December 27 election now has a momentum of its own, with cycles of killing and revenge linked to land and wealth disputes tied to British colonial policy that politicians have revived during most of Kenya's elections.

"What is alarming about the last few days is that there are evidently hidden hands organizing it now. Militias are appearing ... the targeting is very specific," Britain's Africa minister Mark Malloch Brown said on a visit to Kenya.

The government has for weeks accused the opposition of planning ethnic killings in the Rift, and last week watchdog Human Rights Watch made the same accusation after having said police used excessive force in quelling protests.

The number of 250,000 refugees, from one of Kenya's darkest episodes since independence in 1963, looked sure to swell as thousands more fled the chaos in Naivasha and Nakuru.

Full story from Reuters

January 28, 2008
Kenya's ethnic killings spiral out of control

Dozens of people have been burnt and hacked to death within a matter of hours in Kenya, as militias ignored pleas by international mediators for a ceasefire and post-election ethnic violence spiralled out of control.

With the death toll for last night alone coming to at least 13 - and with around 150 killed in the last four days - details of some of the weekend's worst atrocities began to emerge today.

In one incident, at least 19 members of the Luos tribe, supporters of the Opposition leader Raila Odinga, were burnt to death after members of the Kikuyu tribe, supporting President Mwai Kibaki, chased them into a slum and set it on fire.

Other members of the Luos tribe who escaped being set on fire were reported to have been hacked to death. Police reportedly did not intervene.

Some Kalenjin saw the 'majimbo' - or devolution - election pledge as a licence for ethnic cleansing
The tribalism that colours Kenyan life
The eruption of violence following Kenya's elections has brought to the fore the latent tribalism present in every day life

The incident took place in Naivasha, a normally quiet market town 55 miles north west of Nairobi in the Kenyan Rift Valley, and was condemned as "murderous and evil" by Mr Odinga.

Within hours, anti-Government mobs were involved in high-profile clashes with Kikuyu tribe members, with mobs wielding clubs confronting their opponents in apparent moves to take revenge.

In a statement made yesterday following a Nairobi meeting with Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, Mr Odinga appeared to fan the flames of the conflict by implicating police in the killings.

"I condemn this murderous and evil act in the strongest terms possible," he said. "What is now emerging is that criminal gangs, on a killing spree, are working under police protection."

In the western city of Kisumu today, one man was killed by a stray bullet when security forces opened fire to disperse demonstrating crowds.

Meanwhile, in the town of Nakuru, clashes were seen to take place between gangs armed with machetes, metal bars and bows and arrows.

One Nakuru resident, Cosmas Makori, 22, whose house was burnt down by rioters yesterday, accused the police of standing by as violence raged, saying: "The police came here and ordered us to surrender our arms, but are not doing anything to protect us. At the moment we are still insecure."

Police said that they detained 155 overnight in Naivasha and Nakuru, as officers attempted to restore order.

"They are being probed over arson and murder," police commissioner Major General Mohamed Hussein Ali told a news conference today.

"We have enhanced deployment all over the places affected by the violence. The skirmishes appear to be ethnic. Communities are avenging each other but we are in control."

Violence erupted across Kenya after the country's December 27 presidential elections, with political protests giving way to tit-for-tat killings over long-running feuds between rival communities.

Supporters of Mr Odinga claim that President Kibaki's victory in the elections was largely due to vote-rigging. Around 900 people have died since post-election riots started, in what analysts say is the worst crisis since a failed 1982 coup.

Full story from Times (UK)

19 Burned to Death in Violence in Kenya

Published: January 28, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — Ethnically driven violence intensified in Kenya on Sunday, and police officials said at least 19 people, including 11 children, were burned to death in a house by a mob.

Ethnic Violence in Rift Valley Is Tearing Kenya Apart (January 27, 2008)

Even the Kenyan military, deployed for the first time to stop antagonists from attacking one another, has been unable to halt the wave of revenge killings.

More than 100 people have been killed in the past four days, many of them shot with arrows, burned or hacked with machetes.

It is some of the worst fighting since a disputed election in December ignited long-simmering tensions that have so far claimed at least 750 lives. The fighting appeared to be spreading Sunday across the Rift Valley region, a particularly picturesque part of Kenya known more for its game parks and fancy lodges.

The Kenyan government is now threatening to arrest top opposition leaders on suspicion of orchestrating the bloodshed, but opposition leaders are in turn accusing the government of backing criminal gangs.

According to police officials in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, fighting erupted Sunday morning between gangs of Kikuyus and Luos, two of Kenya’s biggest ethnic groups, who have clashed across the country since the election. Witnesses said mobs threw flaming tires and mountains of rocks into the streets to block police officers from entering some neighborhoods. The mobs then went house to house, looking for certain people.

Grace Kakai, a police commander in Naivasha, said a large crowd of Kikuyus chased a group of Luos through a slum, trapped them in a house, blocked the doors and set the house afire. Police found 19 bodies huddled in one room, and Ms. Kakai said some of the children’s bodies were so badly burned that they could not be identified.

“All I can say is that they were school age,” she said.

The episode was similar to one on Jan. 1, when up to 50 women and children seeking shelter in a church in another Rift Valley town were burned to death by a mob. The victims in that case were mostly Kikuyus, and Kikuyus across the country seem to have been attacked more than any other group.

In the past few days, many Kikuyus have organized into militias, saying they are now ready for revenge.

“The situation is very bad,” Ms. Kakai said. “People are fighting each other and trying to drive them out of the area. We have to evacuate people.”

Thousands of families are streaming out of Naivasha, Nakuru, Molo, Eldoret and other towns across the Rift Valley, which has become the epicenter of Kenya’s violence. The province is home to supporters of both Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, and Raila Odinga, the top opposition leader, and the site of historic land disputes between members of rival ethnic groups.

Mr. Kibaki is a Kikuyu and Mr. Odinga is a Luo, and the disputed election, in which Mr. Kibaki was declared the winner by a narrow margin despite widespread evidence of vote rigging, set off the ethnically driven violence.

The Kenya of today is almost unrecognizable compared with the Kenya that until recently was celebrated as one of the most stable and promising countries on the African continent. On Sunday night, local television stations showed menacing young men waving machetes and iron bars at roadblocks along one of the country’s busiest highways. The men threw rocks at buses, with one large bus run off the road, as police officers stood by.

The Kenyan Army was assigned early this month to help evacuate people from conflict zones, but on Friday, for the first time, soldiers were ordered to intervene between warring groups. That did not seem to make much of a difference, and witnesses said the soldiers had been as ineffective as the police.

A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed in several Rift Valley towns, including Naivasha and Nakuru, but witnesses said violence continued to rage in the countryside, with bands of armed men burning down huts and attacking ethnic rivals.

Many Kenyans have said the most distressing aspect is that the opposing politicians, instead of cooperating to stop the bloodshed, continue to bicker over who started it.

That is exactly what happened on Sunday after news of the Naivasha killings spread.

Full story from NY Times

Ethnic violence in Kenya hits lakeside resort

By Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — Naivasha, one of Kenya's most popular vacation spots and a onetime playground for British colonialists, on Sunday became the latest city to suffer from ethnic clashes, raising fears that the violence is spreading into previously calm areas.

As many as 30 people were killed in the lakeside city, according to opposition leaders, who blamed the attacks on Kikuyu supporters of President Mwai Kibaki. The violence in Naivasha appeared to be in response to clashes last week in the nearby city of Nakuru, where more than 50 Kikuyus were killed and hundreds of homes burned.

Gangs of Kikuyus, who supported fellow tribesman Kibaki in a disputed Dec. 27 election, took out their anger Sunday by attacking rival tribes in Naivasha, burning homes in slum areas and setting up roadblocks along the main highway to Nairobi.

"This is not even about the election," said Redemta Haoth, 36, a flower farmworker and member of the Luo tribe, which has generally supported opposition leader Raila Odinga. "This is ethnic cleansing."

Haoth and her two children fled their home and spent the night with hundreds of other frightened people at Naivasha's police station. Many opted to sleep in the town's prison when space ran out in the police compound.

A Kikuyu man in Naivasha, wielding a club and roaming the streets Sunday afternoon, called the attacks revenge for the recent deaths of Kikuyus in other parts of the country. "For every one Kikuyu killed, we shall avenge their killing with three," he said.

Soldiers and police reinforcements arrived late Sunday afternoon, firing tear gas and live bullets.
Downtown Naivasha quickly became deserted, but on the outskirts, gangs of youths armed with machetes and clubs engaged in running battles with police.

Police escorted a convoy of nine vehicles of tourists trapped outside Naivasha through the town and on to Nairobi.

In Nakuru, the provincial capital of Kenya's fertile Rift Valley where ethnic clashes erupted late Thursday, some 55 bodies were counted Sunday at the morgue, a morgue attendant said.
Violence since last month's presidential election has killed nearly 700 people and displaced an additional 250,000.

Both Kibaki and Odinga have urged their supporters to stay peaceful, but their calls seem to have had little effect.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is the latest international mediator trying to promote talks between the two, who met Thursday for the first time since the election.

Kibaki and Odinga remain far apart on how to resolve the crisis, the worst the country has seen since its 1963 independence from Britain.

Full story from LA Times with AP

Kenya gangs face off in tribal violence

Story Highlights
Kofi Annan still in the country meeting human rights groups
Reports of Kikuyu man burned alive in minibus
Kenyan Red Cross visit morgue to conduct body count
Two Germans battered to death on the coast

NAIVASHA, Kenya -- Hundreds of people from rival tribes confronted each other on a main road in Naivasha Monday as tensions remained high in the Rift Valley town following a weekend of ethnic violence.

Gangs brandishing machetes, clubs and rocks only retreated when a handful of police between them fired live bullets into the air.

Trouble also erupted Monday in another western town, Kisumu, where armed mobs set some houses ablaze, prompting police to open fire. A morgue attendant said the body of a man shot in the back of the head was brought in.

Mobs set buses ablaze at the main downtown bus station, and one Kikuyu driver was burned alive in his minibus, according to witness Lillian Ocho.

Members of the Kenyan Red Cross went to the morgue in Naivasha to try to figure out how many people were killed in ethnic violence that has injured at least 179 people in the last few days, the agency reported.

The Red Cross is investigating reports that several people were burned alive in the town -- just the latest instance of killing along ethnic lines that has swept Kenya since a disputed presidential election in Kenya.

In a separate incident not believed to be related to the post-election violence, a German tourist and a businessman were battered to death by a gang of robbers who trailed them to their apartment at Kenya's southeast Diana beach resort, police said Monday.

Police said the two Germans were killed after a long struggle with the robbers who used clubs and machetes.

The government says at least 600 people have been killed, but the opposition says about 1,000 have died.

On Sunday, eyewitnesses and Red Cross officials reported brutal attacks by members of President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe on other ethnic groups in Naivasha.

Local news reports said 10 people were burned alive there, but the precise figure was unclear Monday.

In the nearby town of Nakuru, meanwhile, authorities said Monday that the death toll had risen to 56 since violence broke out on Thursday.

In a statement released Sunday, the leader of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, Raila Odinga, condemned reports of people being burned alive in their Naivasha homes. He blamed the Kibaki government for fomenting the violence in the region.

Full story from CNN

Weekend Violence Claims 90 Lives

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008 Nairobi

Thirty more people were feared dead, bringing the toll of the weekend bloodletting to almost 90 as the epicentre of the violence shifted to Naivasha, 70km from the capital, Nairobi.

And in a chilling episode, at least 16 people - most of them women and children - were burnt to death in a house torched by attackers in Naivasha.

Meanwhile, the Kofi Annan-led team intensified efforts to find a solution to the crisis that is dangerously pushing the country towards civil war.

Last night, the mediation team was expected to release the terms of engagement for the talks. After meeting with the team of African Union eminent persons yesterday, ODM said it was hopeful of progress.

On Sunday evening, Annan met President Kibaki and briefed him on his visit to the violence-hit areas.

The President repeated that he was committed to dialogue, and urged all leaders to give the Annan initiative a chance.

In a statement by the Presidential Press Service, Kibaki said he was encouraged by Annan team's efforts that led to a meeting with ODM leader, Mr Raila Odinga.

After yesterday's hour-long meeting with Annan, ODM deputy leader, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, said: "We believe some measure of progress is imminent. We want a lasting solution."

If the terms of engagement are agreeable to both sides, ODM and President Kibaki's side will then proceed to appoint a team of three negotiators each and one additional member, who will act as the liaison between the warring parties.

In yesterday's incident only comparable to that visited on victims sheltering at an Eldoret Church early this month, charred remains of the 16 victims were crammed in a small, two-room house, where - according to witnesses - they had locked themselves up to escape the wrath of bloodthirsty youths.

"When the attacks started, youths burnt the house, trapping them inside," a resident said.
Another four were hacked to death as they fled from the marauding gangs targeting members of one community.

Others were killed and lynched after being fished out of public service vehicles on account of their tribe.

Policemen watched the unfolding chaos helplessly as Nairobi was temporarily cut-off from western Kenya.

Independent reports put the death toll in Naivasha at more than 20, but police confirmed only 10. The number could be higher as several people were reported missing.

In Nakuru, the death toll hit 60, with the number expected to rise as rival groups continued to clash. Witnesses said some of the attackers, believed to be members of the proscribed Mungiki sect, were armed with guns and wore police uniforms.

Fifty-five bodies are lying at the Nakuru Municipal Mortuary with five more yet to be collected from the town's estates. The mortuary, with a capacity of 42, was stretched to the limit as bodies streamed in.

The number of those injured continued to rise and by yesterday evening, more than 100 victims were admitted to the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital nursing arrow, cuts and bullet wounds.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

14 Killed And Thousands Flee As Violence Spreads to Naivasha

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008 Nairobi

At least 14 people were killed, 10 of them burnt after their house was set ablaze as violence erupted in Naivasha Town Sunday.

The burnt victims had locked themselves inside the house after running away from a gang of youths, which was armed with machetes.

The gangs, believed to be from Central Province, set the house on fire after dousing it with petrol.

According to a witness, the victims had initially attempted to flee to Naivasha Police Station after word went round that they would be attacked.

The arson attack happened at around 10am in Kabati estate. The fire also burnt 10 other houses in the residential block.

Three other people were stoned to death while several others sustained deep cuts after being attacked by groups of youths.

The death toll from the Nakuru and Naivasha killings in the last four days rose to 83.

The gangs, armed with pangas (machetes) and rungus (clubs), erected roadblocks on the Nairobi-Naivasha highway.

At one of the roadblocks, a man believed to be from Nyanza Province was hacked to death after being flushed out of an Akamba bus bound for western Kenya.

The youths inspected all vehicles at the barricades and attacked those who could not speak their mother tongue.

Police appeared overwhelmed and the military was deployed to restore order.

At around noon, entry into Naivasha Town was completely cut off after the youths blocked a two-kilometre stretch.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

10 Burnt Alive As Toll Rises

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008 Nairobi

At least 10 people were burnt alive and three others stoned to death as violence sparked by the outcome of the December General Election spread to Naivasha Town.

And in Nakuru, one more person was shot dead by attackers in Ponda Mali in the violence which has taken an ethnic angle. More than 10 people are admitted to the Provincial General Hospital with arrows lodged in their bodies.

This brings to 82 the number of those killed in Nakuru and its environs in the past two days. Other sources put the toll in Nakuru at 100.

Fourteen 14 bodies were Sunday collected from the town and its suburbs. The Nation counted 68 bodies at the local government mortuary from the weekend violence.

The 10 arson victims, mostly women and children, were burnt inside a house at Kabati estate in Naivasha Town. They had locked themselves in the house to escape the violence. Since dawn, marauding youths had taken over the town, barricading roads and terrorising motorists on the main Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

A man was pulled out of an Akamba bus headed for Kisumu and hacked to death in Naivasha. The youths, who demanded that motorists identify themselves, said they were avenging killings of their kinsmen in other parts of Rift Valley.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Naivasha teacher: 'People are killing each other'

Antony, 35, is a secondary school teacher in the Kenyan Rift Valley town of Naivasha. He describes what he witnessed and heard during the weekend's violence.

I can see smoke rising above the town and that means that houses are burning.

Earlier, I went round some of Sunday's scenes of violence. Police were trying to disperse all the people that were gathering by firing gunshots but no-one was taking any notice of the police.

People are not scared by the gunshots.

We are just awaiting what will erupt next.

Everything here has been broken up by all the tribal clashes.

We had been living together all this time before, we had peace, we worked together.

Now it is kind of as if people are trying to chase away one another.

My feelings are that if God doesn't intervene we will continue to have problems.

Yesterday the clashes took up the better part of the day.

The situation was like this: people would attack a certain area and then when the police came running to the rescue, then another group would go to a different area - on and on and on, over and over - it was like a cat and mouse game whereby when the police took a group to safety, then another group would move on somewhere else and start attacking until the police managed to get to the new location of violence.

It was hide-and-seek.

Those attacking were mostly from the Kikuyu community because they were very angry about what happened in Eldoret - they thought it was time that the Luo and Kalenjin in Naivasha tasted what their relatives had had too.

People running up and down, police shooting and throwing canisters, burning of houses, people being killed, people killing one another.

I saw all this.

Full story from BBC

Rivals Given Roadmap to Peaceful End

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Bernard Namunane

Mediation efforts to end the political crisis in which hundreds of people have been killed entered a crucial stage Sunday when President Kibaki and ODM leader Raila Odinga were handed proposals of a roadmap to a peaceful solution.

On Sunday evening, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan sent the feuding sides documents specifying the terms of reference, the agenda and options of reaching a solution that is agreeable to both sides.

Mr Annan met Mr Odinga and his team at Serena Hotel to inform them of the new stage in the dialogue, having passed on the same message to President Kibaki at State House on Saturday afternoon.

Briefing the Press, ODM Pentagon member Musalia Mudavadi said: "We have met Mr Annan and he has told us that at the end of the day, he would be availing (sic) to us the documents on the principles of engagement, the agenda and the line we will pursue in seeking a solution to the crisis."

Mr Annan, he said, had also asked each side in the political dispute to name a team of three negotiators and a liaison officer for the key stage of agreeing on the peace deal.

It marked the second score by the mediation team that includes former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and Mrs Graca Machel - former South African First Lady - in their quest to broker a peaceful deal between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

"We believe that the measure of progress seems imminent and we, in ODM, want to ensure that Kenya gets a peaceful solution," said Mr Mudavadi.

Just three days after flying into the country last Tuesday, Mr Annan succeeded in bringing together President Kibaki and Mr Odinga for talks at Harambee House where they shook hands and appealed for calm and peace in Kenya.

Make hard choices
The terms of reference and the agenda of the negotiations are normally drawn after the facilitators have considered the proposals placed on the table by the sides in the dispute. Input from religious leaders, civil society, opinion leaders and foreign envoys is also considered.

The Annan-led team has kept up with those demands and has met all the parties concerned.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Press despair as Kenya crisis continues

The press in Kenya and neighbouring countries expresses deep dismay that the post-election violence has continued despite talks being held between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to find a way out of the crisis.

Several Kenyan commentators doubt that the talks mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will succeed unless political leaders acknowledge the full extent of the crisis and its underlying causes.

In neighbouring Uganda, one writer calls on the Kenyan government to engage with the opposition, while another urges the Ugandan-born Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, to speak out on the crisis.

The spiral of post-election violence, the killings, displacement and wanton destruction of property have reached catastrophic levels. It is time we stopped burying our heads in the sand as government officials claim life is returning to normal.

Mr Annan cannot avoid looking at the way the ethnic card has been played at different times by different politicians and to what ends? I agree with people who subscribe to the fact that power-sharing is good in principle. But I don't see it working when each side believes it won the election fair and square.

It is now recognised that women and children are bearing the brunt of the raging conflict. Sexual abuse has been thrown into the equation, and these two vulnerable groups are suffering double jeopardy... the increase in sexual attacks is a direct offshoot of the breakdown of law and order and the consequent collapse of social mechanisms. In our situation, there is no substitute for peace in ensuring women and girls are safe from sexual depredation.

In this situation it is pointless for any group to crow that they are properly elected and fully in charge of government. The reality is that the instruments of governance have been overwhelmed with the protests that followed the disputed presidential election.

Kibaki's camp cannot pretend that there is no crisis in Kenya when killings are continuing. As a way forward, Mr Odinga has floated three options: Kibaki's resignation, a vote re-run, or power-sharing then a new election. Disagreeable as these suggestions maybe for Mr Kibaki's side, they should surely form the basis of dialogue.

Uganda-born Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has not uttered a word on the events in Kenya where the people have been drowning in blood for almost 30 days. Has the bishop got a selective sense of injustice, only noticing and condemning human rights abuses in the Middle East and Zimbabwe, or is he too busy praying for Mr Mugabe's immediate demise to care about the evolving genocide in Kenya?

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Story from BBC NEWS: 2008/01/27 13:09:24 GMT© BBC MMVIII

25 New MPs Face Court Battles to Defend Seats

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Evelyn KwambokaNairobi

As Kenyans voted on December 27, little did they know they were opening avenues for political battles. By Friday, more than 25 parliamentary election petitions had been filed at the High Court Registry.

Time is now running out for candidates who lost in the General Election and who might want to file petitions as the 28-day deadline looms. Three Cabinet ministers and former Assistant ministers are among the poll winners facing petitions.

Chief Justice Evan Gicheru is expected to gazette the judges to preside over the disputes. Unlike the 38 cases filed after the 2002 election, petitioners have raised more serious issues on the Electoral Commission (ECK).

Past petitions mainly dwelt on violence, but this time round, losers are pointing fingers at counting and tallying of votes. Some petitioners are seeking orders to have all votes cast scrutinised.

Cabinet members facing petitions are Internal Security minister Prof George Saitoti, his East African Co-operation colleague Dr Wilfred Machage and Foreign Affairs minister Mr Moses Wetangula.

Former Assistant ministers are Mr Danson Mungatana and Mrs Beth Mugo. Other MPs whose elections have been challenged include ODM treasurer Mr Omingo Magara (South Mugirango), Kirinyaga Central's Mr John Ngata Kariuki, Mr Dick Wathika of Makadara and Mr Walter Enock Nyambati Osebes (Kitutu Masaba).

In Kajiado North, Mr Moses Ole Sakuda of ODM is disputing Saitoti's election. Sakuda, who garnered 21,602 votes against Saitoti's 40,376 claims the election was marred by irregularities during voting and tallying. He alleges that Saitoti's brother, Mr Leonard Leposo Muthengi, brought fake ballot papers and boxes.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Thousands Flock to Churches And Police Stations for Safety

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS27 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Michael Njuguna, Watoro Kamau and Wanjiru Macharia

Thousands of Nakuru residents fled to police stations and churches for safety as violence continued for the second day in the Rift Valley town.

Rival gangs fought each other at Lanet, Free Area, Mwariki, Kaptembwa and Teachers' estates, heightening tension.

By yesterday afternoon, about 1,500 people had pitched camp at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa compound in Shabaab.

PCEA National Treasurer Mr Johnson Njatha pleaded for assistance, saying the families, particularly children, urgently needed food and clothing.

The victims were from Shabaab, Kaptembwa and Githima, which had been badly hit by the violence, the church official said.

Another 2,000 residents, mainly women and children, sought refuge at the Lanet chief's camp at Free Area, while another 500 camped at St. Francis Catholic Church within Nakuru Teachers' Estate.

About 100 people, most of them children displaced from their homes in Kaptembwa, Ponda Mali and Mwariki estates, sought refuge at the Central Police Station.

Yesterday afternoon, Kenya Red Cross Society officials used several trucks to relocate families from Lanet chief's camp to the more spacious Afraha Stadium.

The victims said they had not eaten anything since Friday evening when they fled their homes.
Smoke hung over Free Area and Kiratina estates as gangs of youths burnt household goods left behind by fleeing families.

Police officers only restrained the gangs from clashing or pursuing families fleeing to police stations.

Pandemonium broke out in Nakuru at 2.45 pm when police officers fired into the air to scare away a mob that had attacked two people at the main bus station. One of the victims died on the spot; the other was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Two military helicopters hovered over the town, identifying trouble spots and directing forces on the ground to the scenes.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Human Rights Officials Threatened

The East African Standard (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Vincent Bartoo and Samuel Otieno

Human rights officials fear for their lives following a report released by an international group on post-election violence.

The Human Rights Watch report accuses opposition leaders in the Rift Valley of planning skirmishes in the province. Eldoret human rights organisations said the report was being linked to them yet they did not participate in its preparation.

Led by the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRD), Mr Ken Wafula, the officials said their lives were in now danger.

"We are accused of feeding Human Rights Watch with information that led to the compilation of the report," Wafula told the Press in Eldoret.

The document, Kenya: Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence, says in part: "Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya's disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organised ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley."

The Eldoret Centre Against Torture Programme Officer, Mr David Koros, described the report as "biased, lopsided and against one community".

"The report is dangerous. It singled out one community as perpetrators of the violence and overlooked where other communities were aggressors," he said.

International human rights institutions have called on the Government to ensure the safety of activists threatened by militant groups. The Commonwealth Forum of National Human Rights Institutions expressed concern over information that relates to threats against the Chairperson of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, Mr Maina Kiai, and his colleagues.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

18 Schools Closed Over Skirmishes

The East African Standard (Nairobi)

NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Vitalis Kimutai and Harold Ayodo

Eighteen schools have been closed down in Trans Mara District due to post-election violence.
As a result, 6,450 pupils and 117 teachers have deserted the learning institutions at Birar and Kirindoni divisions due to insecurity.

The most affected is Ainamoi Primary School in Kirindoni which has become a refugee camp for 28 displaced families.

On Sunday, The Standard found at least 200 people taking refuge in the classrooms.

"Our houses were torched by raiders who struck in broad daylight and we sought sanctuary here. We lost everything as a result of the violence," said Mr Anthony Ruto.

Mr Joseph Kitur, the Trans Mara Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary, called on the Government to restore security to enable learning to resume.

"It is unfortunate that pupils and teachers have kept away from schools over matters that would otherwise have been easily resolved," Kitur said.

Elsewhere, teachers' unions have appealed to their 9,000 members in Nyanza to report to schools today after the Government's security assurance.

Nyanza PC, Mr Paul Olando, told The Standard that adequate security would be provided to learning institutions

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Kenyans pray for breakthrough

THE FACE-TO-FACE MEETING BETWEEN PRESIdent Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga last week was the ray of hope Kenyans had been yearning for. Yet many would still like to be reassured that it was not just a photo opportunity and that serious negotiations to break the impasse are taking place behind the scenes.

Former UN chief Kofi Annan has emphasised that he is ready to stay in the country as long as necessary to ensure a peaceful settlement — and politicians should take him seriously.

While both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga assured the nation that they are committed to a peaceful solution by appearing in public together for the first time since the crisis started, the gesture was almost derailed by complaints that President Kibaki referred to himself as “the duly elected president of Kenya.”

The question of whether President Kibaki was legitimately elected is the bone of contention, and the quick reaction to the president’s statement shows that the slightest move that raises suspicion on either side could derail the talks.

Failure of the talks would also mean that the rights of the internally displaced will have been trampled on the second time. It is now time for the Kenya police to help maintain the peace, while the opposition should move to prevent further protests and violence.

Full story from The East African (Editorial)

Stop the War Now, Ruto Tells Rift Valley Residents

The East African Standard (Nairobi)

NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Isaiah Lucheli

Eldoret North MP, Mr William Ruto, has appealed to Rift Valley residents not to allow the province to become a battleground every election year.

In his first visit to the town since the eruption of post-election violence, the MP dispelled claims that the violence experienced was planned, saying it was a spontaneous reaction caused by a flawed election.

"I am appealing to our people to stop fighting each other. We know those who organised to manipulate the elections and have put us in this mess," said Ruto.

On the ongoing mediation talks, Ruto said ODM members would be humbled to look at the prevailing situation and make hard decisions for the sake of the country.

"Politics should not be turned into an ethnic contest. Politics is about policies, development and manifestoes. We should create harmony and coexist," said Ruto.

Ruto, who is also a member of the ODM Pentagon, called on the police to discharge their duties professionally and avoid being politicised.

"Many of the people who have been killed and admitted to hospitals sustained bullet wounds. The security forces should discharge their mandate professionally," said Ruto.

The MP appealed to religious leaders to pray for the country to enable leaders involved in mediation to reach an amicable agreement. "I ask you to pray so that political leaders will have the courage to make hard decisions, humility to listen and wisdom to put all that together," he said.

He said the country was on the brink of collapse and said it was only God's intervention that could save it.

Ruto visited wounded people at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.

He said the Constitution had contributed to the post-election violence and called for its amendment, especially on presidential powers.

Ruto said the Constitution provides for a-winner-takes-it-all and a tax system that impoverishes the poor.

"Fifteen years ago, Kenyans identified the Constitution as the problem facing the country. It gives excess powers to the President and alienates the poor," he said.

Ruto was speaking at the Africa Inland Church in Eldoret town where he attended a service. He later donated 100 bags of maize, cooking fat, milk and blankets to displaced people.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Anxiety as Police Visit Raila

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Samwel Kumba and Patrick Nzioka

There was anxiety at ODM leader Raila Odinga's Karen home after people said to be police officers went there inquiring about his whereabouts.

The alleged police officers are said to have gone to the home on Saturday night and again on Sunday morning asking to see either Mr Odinga or his wife Ida.

But the Odingas, who were present on both occasions, refused to see the officers who talked to the guards and left.

Lang'ata OCPD Patrick Mang'oli denied sending his men to Mr Odinga's home.

However, he said he had received a report that court servers had gone to Mr Odinga's home to serve him with election petition papers filed by his challenger for the Lang'ata seat, Mr Stanley Livondo.

Police on routine duties in the area, he said, patrol the Karen area including the court where Mr Odinga's home is.

"The claims that police officers went to Mr Odinga's home looking for him are not true. The report I have is that people from the courts went there to serve him with an election petition. It is important also to know that we conduct patrols in the area all the time," Mr Mang'oli said by telephone.

The guard at the main entrance to the court that is approximately two kilometres from Mr Odinga's house said he had allowed police officers Sunday morning to enter the court.

The guard, who did not give his name, said police regularly enter the court as they patrol the area.

Full story from Nation at AllAfrica

Plans for Modern EAC Railway Network On Track

The New Times (Kigali)
NEWS28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
By Victor Mugambe

The East African Community (EAC) member states plan to modernise the region's railway system in an effort to ease the movement of goods and people from one country to another, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said.

Rwanda and Burundi who signed the accession treaty last June are members of the now five-nation EAC bloc.

Museveni who is also the Chairman of EAC said on Saturday that Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are to work together to ensure that this dream (of modernising railway) is realised. "We want people to move to Dar and Mombasa cheaply and very fast," Museveni said.

He was officiating during the 22nd victory anniversary celebrations for his ruling NRM party at Kololo Airstrip in Kampala. Rwanda's imports and exports as well as the country's business community heavily use both port cities of Dar and Mombasa in Tanzania and Kenya respectively.

Museveni said that once the region's railway network is modernised, the cost of doing business among the EAC countries would go low.

About the ongoing post-election violence in Kenya, Museveni urged people in the region to pray for Kenyans to solve the problems amicably. He said that during his meeting with President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga, both showed signs of willingness to resolve the impasse.

The violence in Kenya has already affected most of EAC's land landlocked member countries, with delays in fuel supplies as well as other imports and exports.

"In Uganda, Rwanda Burundi, DRC and Sudan, we all have already tested this.

We all got problems because of the Kenyan problem. Kenya; like any other African country is cooperating with many partners," Museveni remarked In a related development, the Kenyan government has assured EAC members states of the safety of their goods that leave or pass through to respective countries in the region.

According to the Uganda Government Spokesperson Fred Opolot, President Kibaki assured Museveni that measures were being taken to ensure smooth flow of transit goods to Uganda and other countries in the region. Opolot said that this was reached during a meeting between Museveni and Kibaki in Nairobi last week.

Museveni was in Kenya trying to broker negotiations between Kibaki and Odinga.

Full story from New Times (Kigali) at AllAfrica

Talking is the Only Real Way Out

The Monitor (Kampala)
27 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008 Kampala

There is more posturing coming out of Nairobi. And that is bad news. "Violence erupts despite Kenyan rivals' handshake", that is a neat wire service headline from Friday, a day after Mr Mwai Kibaki and Mr Raila Odinga shook hands in Nairobi following a nudging by former UN chief Kofi Annan and President Museveni.

Unfortunately, the handshake did not foreshadow a discussion of the substantive issues that separate the two sides. Instead, it was followed by sniping. Mr Kibaki muddied the waters immediately after the handshake by declaring that he was the "duly elected" President of Kenya in total disregard of the very circumstances that had led to the handshake in the first place. Mr Odinga's party called Mr Kibaki's remarks "embarrassing". That same night, killings resumed in some parts of the country such as Nakuru. And on Friday Mr Odinga was announcing he would not become Mr Kibaki's prime minister.

All of which raise the basic question: how many more Kenyans must die before common sense prevails? As a way forward, Mr Odinga has floated three options: Kibaki's resignation, a vote re-run, or power-sharing then a new election. Disagreeable as these suggestions maybe for Mr Kibaki's side, they should surely form the basis of dialogue. After all you do not negotiate with someone you agree with. Mr Kibaki's camp cannot pretend that there is no crisis in Kenya when killings are continuing. Presentations of fait accompli through phrases such as "duly elected" President will not help either.

Which raises yet another question. If Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga do not put aside their egos and sit down to talk, how else do they think they will resolve their differences? Will they pick up guns and sort it out through armed conflict? They simply need to look across the border into Uganda to understand what happened when the 1980 election dispute led to a five-year civil war.
We are still struggling with the effects of that war. So, if it is unlikely that guns will resolve the current political problems in Kenya, why don't Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga talk beginning now? Why talk later, after many deaths, if you can talk now and allow the country to heal and move on?

Do these men feel proud that Kenyans are dying and their property getting destroyed in their names? And do they care that five countries in the Great Lakes Region are at risk of economic crisis if the Kenya chaos spirals out of control? Only Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga can answer these questions. We have not given up hope that they are still men of conscience.

Full story from The Monitor (Kampala, Uganda)

No comments: