Friday, February 1, 2008

More Headlines – Fri. 2/01/2008

Breaking news reports:

1- Mob kills Kenyan police officer

Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 21 minutes ago

ELDORET, Kenya - A mob of 3,000 armed with bows and arrows, spears, clubs and machetes killed a police officer Friday in the home village of an opposition lawmaker who had been fatally shot by a police officer the day before, police said

It was the first police casualty that authorities have linked to the monthlong postelection turmoil. The mob accused the officer of wounding a civilian Thursday during protests after the killing of lawmaker David Kimutai Too, police commander Peter Aliwa said.

Too's killing added to distrust of police, who are already accused of using excessive force and of being too allied with the government.

Police said they had fatally shot four people and wounded five others Thursday evening and Friday morning in western Kenya.

Britain Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch-Brown suggested deploying Kenya's army, saying Kenyan police "at this stage seem to be seen as no longer neutral and behind some of the killings."

But President Mwai Kibaki insisted Friday that "the security situation in the country is under control."

Kibaki also suggested that the opposition take its grievances over the disputed election to the courts, but the opposition says the courts are loaded with Kibaki's allies.

Kibaki told leaders at an African summit in Ethiopia's capital that "the judiciary in Kenya has over the years arbitrated electoral disputes, and the current one should not be an exception," according to a speech he delivered during a closed session, the text of which was later distributed to reporters.

More than 800 people have been killed and 300,000 forced from their homes since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election. Kibaki has made clear that his position as president is nonnegotiable, and the international community is pressing him and opposition leader Raila Odinga to share power.

Much of the bloodshed set off by the political feud has pitted other ethnic groups, including Odinga's Luo tribe, against Kibaki's Kikuyu. Kikuyus, Kenya's largest ethnic group, have long been resented for their dominance of the economy and politics.

Talks aimed at ending the crisis, which are being mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, resumed Friday with an address by Annan's successor, Ban Ki-moon.

Ban appealed to negotiators to "look beyond the individual interest. Look beyond the party lines. Now the future is on you."

Police said Too's killing Thursday in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret was a crime of passion [this is still disputed by ODM]: He was shot by a traffic police officer who discovered the lawmaker was having an affair with his girlfriend, also a police officer. A woman shot in the same attack also died.

Too was the second anti-government legislator killed in a week — Mugabe Were was fatally shot Tuesday as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi. Opposition politicians said both were victims of assassination plots meant to rob Odinga's party of the parliamentary majority it won in voting the same day as the presidential election. A Too family spokesman accused the police of a cover-up, saying the lawmaker was not involved with the woman.

The spokesman, Julius Langat, said the slain policewoman was a family friend to whom Too, a former teacher and father of two, had gone to seek protection for his family.

Odinga said Friday that the United States has offered to send FBI agents to investigate Were's murder, and urged the government to accept. The U.S Embassy confirmed the offer had been made.

But government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the government had not received the offer, and did not need outside help. "We are capable of conducting our own murder investigation," Mutua told reporters.

In western Kenya Friday, hundreds of young men blocked roads with burning tires and rocks in Kericho, a town near Too's constituency. "Kibaki must go!" they chanted.

Smoke columns rose from smoldering ashes in what remains of the city's poor Nwagocho and Baraka housing estates. There, police said they shot and killed four people and injured five Thursday evening and Friday morning.

"Those who were shot and killed were participating in looting properties and torching residential houses and business buildings," said John Otieno, in charge of criminal investigations there.
One of the wounded at the hospital, Elizabeth Kones, said she was running from her burning home when she was hit. Her hand was broken.

In Eldoret, 21 people were wounded in clashes following Too's killing, including 13 who were shot, of whom one later died.

In another western town, Kisumu, police fired tear gas and then live rounds at scores of protesters trying to block the main road. The body of 12-year-old Godfrey Odhiambo, with a bullet wound to the head, was taken to the hospital morgue, according to hospital records.
Associated Press Writers Anita Powell and Heidi Vogt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Katy Pownall in Kikuyu Town, and Tom Maliti, Malkhadir M. Muhumed and Tom Odula in Nairobi contributed to this report.

Full story from AP on Yahoo News

2 - Policeman hanged by mob in Kenya

1 hour ago

A Kenyan policeman was lynched by a mob of demonstrators in revenge for the shooting of an MP by another officer.

The killing came as more than 3,000 demonstrators armed with bows and arrows, spears, clubs and machetes took to the streets in the Rift Valley village of Ainamoi, home to MP David Too who was killed on Thursday.

They turned on the officer accusing him of wounding one of them after police opened fire on the crowd.

It was the first police casualty in the violence which erupted after December's disputed presidential election. Police have shot scores of people in the same period and the civilian death toll is now more than 800.

Meanwhile President Mwai Kibaki suggested that political opponents take their grievances over the election to the courts, a move the opposition has rebuffed saying the courts have been packed with Mr Kibaki's allies.

Mr Kibaki told leaders at the African Union summit in Ethiopia that "the judiciary in Kenya has over the years arbitrated electoral disputes, and the current one should not be an exception."
Talks aimed at ending the crisis, being led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, have resumed.

Much of the bloodshed set off by the political feud has pitted other tribes, including main opposition leader Raila Odinga's Luo, against Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu. Kikuyus, Kenya's largest ethnic group, have long been resented for their dominance of the economy and politics. Western Kenya's Rift Valley has seen some of the worst violence.

Police said the killing of Mr Too was a crime of passion. He was shot by a traffic officer who discovered the MP was having an affair with his girlfriend, also a police officer. She too was shot dead.

Mr Too was the second MP killed in a week, Mugabe Were was shot on Tuesday as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi. Opposition politicians said both were victims of assassination plots meant to rob Mr Odinga's party of its parliamentary majority.

Copyright © 2008 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

Full story at The Press Association on Google News

3 - Kenyan security forces crack down on violence

Fri 1 Feb 2008, 15:29 GMT
By David Lewis

ELDORET, Kenya (Reuters) - Kenya's security forces have cracked down after a month of chaos and killings, but some residents in this Rift Valley town complain authorities are targeting opposition-affiliated tribes harder than others.

The government said this week it would halt violence, no matter who is involved, and when news spread on Thursday of the killing of an opposition politician, army helicopters were scrambled to Eldoret to head off possible riots.

Witnesses said what followed -- security forces on the ground opened fire on protesters, killing at least one and wounding about 20 -- came from nowhere.

"The shooting was careless and there was no provocation," said Amos, who saw an incident in Eldoret's Kapsoya neighbourhood. He complained it was ethnically motivated.

"The Kikuyus are allowed to demonstrate and kill people ... But when we in the west demonstrate they sent people to kill us straight away."

Earlier this week mobs of Kikuyu -- the tribe of President Mwai Kibaki, whose disputed Dec. 27 re-election touched off the worst ethnic violence in Kenya's modern history -- rampaged in the Rift Valley town Naivasha.

Army helicopters were sent there too, and fired rubber bullets over a Kikuyu mob to disperse them. Kenya's army also helped quell violence in similar clashes in nearby Nakuru.

The Kikuyus, who said the attacks were a response to opposition Kalenjin attacks on their tribe in other parts of the Rift, forced some 10,000 people from the mostly western Luo, Luhya and Kalenjin tribes to flee their homes.

Kikuyus were the first targeted in a wave of ethnic attacks which came minutes after Kibaki's re-election. The bulk of roughly 300,000 people forced to flee the clashes were Kikuyus or Kisiis, and many of them complained police stood by as they were attacked and their homes and possessions burned.

Both Kibaki's party and the opposition have accused each other of fuelling the situation. The opposition says Kibaki stole the election, and most observers say the vote was flawed.

The cycle of violence -- a combination of police shootings of opposition protesters and inter-ethnic attacks -- has killed over 850 people and unwound Kenya's reputation as a haven of stability and economic progress in a turbulent corner of Africa.

Attempts to convince the public that the legislator's killing on Thursday was the result of a love triangle failed and hundreds took to the streets in Eldoret, which largely rejected Kibaki in the election.

The hospital's emergency ward was full of patients on Friday morning, with most sharing a bed between two. Some who had been shot on Thursday were still awaiting operations.

Some residents said Kenya's army had also intervened but the police denied these reports.

"I was standing at my door. I was not demonstrating ... they were just shooting indiscriminately," said shopkeeper Bernard Malika, who was hit in the leg and was lying in his bed in the emergency ward of Eldoret's Moi Hospital.

Rights groups have accused police of excessive force and indiscriminate firing. But officials say they have only shot at criminals and looters.

Ethnic tensions and conflicts over land have long simmered in Kenya and are regularly exploited by politicians at election time. But they have never exploded on this scale.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved

3 - FBI offers to probe Kenya MP killings: US embassy

2 hours ago

NAIROBI (AFP) — The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has offered to probe the killings of two Kenyan opposition lawmakers that sparked fresh rioting after weeks of political unrest, the US embassy said Friday.

The offer, which has been rejected by the government, was made through the embassy on January 29 after the fatal shooting that morning of the first MP, Melitus Mugabe Were, in the capital Nairobi, said embassy spokesman Thomas Dowling.

"I can confirm that we did put forward the offer after the killing of the first MP," he said.

"But now the offer stands for the two killings," he said after another opposition lawmaker, David Kimutai Too, was shot dead Thursday in the western Kenya town of Eldoret. Police said the second killing, in which a female policewoman was also shot dead, appeared to be a crime of passion.

But the government rejected the offer, saying it was capable of probing the crimes.

"I am not aware of that offer by the FBI and we have not failed to conduct our investigations and we have not asked anybody to come as assist us conduct the investigations," government spokesman Alfred Mutua told a press conference.

"We are capable of conducting our own murder investigations ... the FBI can only be involved if an American is involved or there was an American angle for murder," he added.

But he welcomed any help to unravel recent killings in ethnic clashes and rioting sparked by the disputed reelection of President Mwai Kibaki in December.

"The government of Kenya welcomes any support that will help unravel who was behind the ethnic cleansing that we have witnessed," Mutua told AFP.

Opposition chief Raila Odinga pressed the government to accept the US offer, accusing Kenyan police of incompetence.

"We now want the government to invite the FBI to come and expedite the investigations of the two MPs killed by assassins. The Kenya police have failed because they have already jumped to conclusions," Odinga told reporters.

The government warned him over the comments.

"The comments that have been made by the leaders of ODM (Orange Democratic Democratic party) about assassinations are ridiculous and insensitive and are only meant to inflame emotions at a time when we should all be careful of what we say," Mutua said.

"That is not healthy at all when we have dialogue. We believe and police have clearly said indications are it was a crime of passion, but we are going to fully investigate," he added.

Members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe suffered heavily in the first wave of post-election violence at the hands of Odinga's Luo tribe and other ethnic groups, but have since carried out numerous revenge attacks.

Odinga earlier said the two MP killings were "part of a plot" to reduce his ODM majority in parliament.

The ODM secured 99 seats in the legislative elections that coincided with the presidential poll on December 27, making it the largest single party but short of an overall majority. Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU) won 43 seats.

Full story from AFP

4 - Diplomats see Africa divided over Kenya

Fri 1 Feb 2008, 16:13 GMT
By Barry Moody

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki took an uncompromising line over the turmoil in his country at a regional summit on Friday and diplomats said Africa was divided on how to handle the continent's most pressing crisis.

Speakers on the first day of an African Union summit on Thursday called for urgent action to stop post-election turmoil that has killed 850 people, stepping up the pressure on Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga for a negotiated solution.

But in a speech to a separate meeting here of the east African regional grouping IGAD, Kibaki strongly attacked the opposition and stuck to positions that have already been rejected by Odinga.

He said he had been elected by a majority of Kenyans, firmly put blame for the deaths on Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and said the dispute must be settled by Kenya's courts.

Odinga says Kibaki stole the December 27 election and refuses to accept him as president. He rejects a solution through the courts, saying they are stacked with Kibaki allies and would take years to issue a ruling.

He also accuses police of killing at least 100 protesters.

The ODM fiercely protested when Kibaki described himself as Kenya's duly elected president at the first meeting between him and Odinga after the election.

Western diplomats in Addis Ababa said Kibaki seemed to be resisting pressure to be more conciliatory.

In addition, the 53 members of the AU seemed divided on the issue.

"There are divisions between one group who see themselves in Kibaki's situation and another that has told him in no uncertain terms that this is not acceptable," said one Western diplomat, adding that South Africa was in the latter group.

Pretoria says Kenya's crisis will be a disaster for the continent if not resolved quickly.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon went to Nairobi direct from the Addis Ababa summit on Friday to support the mediation, led by his predecessor, Kofi Annan.

Outgoing AU chairman John Kufuor, Ghana's president, told reporters Kibaki should work with Annan to end the crisis.

"I appeal to (Kibaki) to cooperate with Kofi Anan so normalcy will be achieved quickly. The African Union is not taking sides. The AU hasn't taken sides and is standing firm behind Kofi Annan to try to achieve mutually acceptable rule.

But in his speech, Kibaki -- who has resisted outside involvement in the crisis -- described Annan's efforts as a "facilitation" mission rather than mediation .

A senior African official told Reuters that a high level review panel warned Kenya two years ago about the dangerous ethnic tensions that have now exploded into bloody conflict.

The AU's Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), a scheme to encourage good governance and democracy on the continent, issued a report drawing attention to potential ethnic problems after visiting the country, said APRM panellist Marie Angelique Savane.

"This was not only one of the main issues that we put in the report, but afterwards we wrote to the authorities of Kenya to alert them on the need to tackle these type of issues: the issue of land, the issue of ethnicity, the lack of access to democracy for the majority of the people," she told Reuters.

"We were expecting the government to fix that and we encouraged them," she added.

Savane said the crisis in Kenya, previously seen as an island of stability in a turbulent region, was a warning to the whole continent.

"This should be an alarm to all African countries to realise democracy is not on paper. It has to be based on strong economic development, it has to be based on consensus building, on political dialogue to try to give a chance to every ethnic, social or economic group to be in a situation to participate," she said.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Full story at Reuters

5 - Kenya investors start to balk as violence spreads

Thu 31 Jan 2008, 12:41 GMT
By Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) - Mounting violence in Kenya more than a month after disputed elections is making investors increasingly wary about the outlook for one of Africa's more developed markets.

The post-election turmoil, which has left 850 dead including two opposition legislators, could knock at least a couple of percentage points off the country's economic output this year, pressure the currency and delay a key privatisation.

Investors were initially reluctant to write off Kenya, which enjoyed seven percent growth in 2007, after violence broke out over the Dec. 27 re-election of president Mwai Kibaki.

With a B-plus sovereign credit rating, the country has benefited from a fascination for so-called frontier markets, the more undeveloped emerging markets offering higher returns and showing a lower correlation with now teetering global stocks.

Amid the chaos, Kenyan stock prices have lost 14 percent in January, compared with losses of only 7 percent in South Africa and gains of 6 percent in Nigeria, while the shilling has fallen as much as 15 percent.

Investors are looking again.

"For the first week or two, we were not too worried, but clearly it's taken a turn for the worse," said Stephane Bwakira, portfolio manager of the Standard Africa equity fund.

"The political killing, the other things that are happening, are going to start impacting company earnings. In the banking sector, there will be a rise in non-performing loans and defaults."

Bwakira said forecasts for Kenya's growth this year had been as high as 7-8 percent, but that this was likely to be lower by two percentage points.

Ratings agency Fitch has a similar view. The agency cut its outlook on Kenya to negative from stable this week, citing the deterioration in the country's political and security situation.

A benign scenario would see growth at 5 percent in Kenya this year, while the lowest of estimates puts it at 2 percent, Fitch said.

The African Development Bank in early December forecast pan-African growth of 6.5 to 7 percent in 2008.

Kenya was expected to launch two international deals this financial year ending in June to shore up its budget position but these are now looking doubtful, analysts say.

The offering of a 25 percent stake in mobile phone service provider Safaricom, 60 percent owned by the Kenyan government, has already been delayed several times.

Kenya was also planning a debut $300 million Eurobond.

"They are both key financings in terms of this year's budget," said Stuart Culverhouse, chief economist at emerging markets brokerage Exotix.

"If they are not realised, that will have a fiscal impact at a time when growth may be weakening and tax revenues falling short. It's going to complicate the picture."

In better times, the Eurobond could expect to offer an even lower yield than a well-received $750 million deal launched last year by Ghana, which has the same rating and is now yielding 7.7 percent, from a launch yield of 8.25 percent.

"The Kenya deal is a bit smaller and it is a bit better known than Ghana, the yield should be a bit less," said Richard Segal, fixed income strategist at Renaissance Capital. "But if it were to come now, it would be at 50 basis points more."

Bwakira sees the shilling continuing to be affected by a drying up of tourism, and likely to trade around 72.50 per dollar , slightly below current levels, for the next few months.

Analysts say the negative impact of the crisis in Kenya is already being felt in neighbouring landlocked countries like Rwanda and Uganda, which rely on goods coming through the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

There is also some wariness about countries like Ghana and Angola, which also have elections this year.

"If you get a series of political events like that in Kenya, that could put a cloud over the continent and the much-talked about African Renaissance," said David Cowan, emerging markets strategist at Citi.

But the growth of sub-Saharan Africa as an investment destination has made investors more savvy, Cowan added.

"Investors very much look at these countries as individual countries. For example, interest in Malawi or Botswana is not affected by current events in Zimbabwe."

And as investors have learnt to differentiate, they may also transfer funds to other African economies, away from Kenya but not away from the region as a whole.

Nigeria is likely to be a beneficiary, while tourists will also look elsewhere in Africa.

Tourism is Kenya's top source of hard currency, earning it nearly $1 billion in 2007.

"South Africa is going to benefit -- you can still go to the beach and safari," said Bwakira.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Full story from Reuters

KENYA: Peter Okoth: “We are threatened by the same people we treated for their injuries”
NAIROBI, 1 February 2008 (IRIN) - Peter Okoth is the medical superintendent at Naivasha District Hospital. After ethnic violence in the Rift Valley town of Naivasha, Okoth and his family, as well as several other members of the hospital's medical team, have joined displaced people camping at the local prison. full report

KENYA: Insecurity leaves crops rotting
NAIROBI, 1 February 2008 (IRIN) - Teresia Chebet and hundreds of other small-scale farmers in the western Kenyan district of Nandi North have not been directly affected by the violence that has ravaged the country in the past month, yet their livelihoods are threatened because markets have become inaccessible. full report

KENYA: 'Good Samaritans' chip in to help unrest victims
NAIROBI, 1 February 2008 (IRIN) - When violence erupted in Narok district after the declaration of the disputed results of Kenya's presidential elections in December, 38 people sought refuge in the home of Anglican bishop Jackson ole Sapit. full report

Full stories from the UN’s IRIN service

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