Sunday, February 3, 2008

More headlines - Late Sun 2/03/2008

Overview - Weekend violence claims 70 lives - AFP

1 - Kenya's children scarred by violence - BBC

2 - Agony in camps as MPs appeal for peace - Nation

3 - Annan team to focus on polls - Nation

4 - Kikuyu flee Rift Valley in terror as homes are burned to the ground - Guardian

5 - Wave of anarchy blamed on Kenya's 'General Coward' - Guardian

6 - Business group aims to solve Kenyan crisis - AP

7 - Kenya talks set to resume but violence continues - Reuters

8 - Kenya's Divisions Aren't Only Tribal - AP

9 - view: Why Kenya is burning —Faryal Virk - Daily Times

10 - Kenya Displaced Face Health Risk - Voice of America

11 - Tanzania to benefit from Kenya’s tragedy - East African

12 - KENYA: No stranger to brinkmanship, Ramaphosa joins mediation team - IRIN


Overview - Weekend Kenya violence claims at least 70 despite peace plan

by Sophie Nicholson


2 hours, 41 minutes ago

Weekend clashes in Kenya left at least 70 dead as tribal violence gripping the country since flawed polls a month ago showed no sign Sunday of abating despite a peace plan set in place by Kofi Annan.

"A total of 13 people were killed overnight" along the Kisii-Kalenjin tribal border and in nearby areas in western Nyamira district, a police commander told AFP, declining to be named.

Later on Sunday, an AFP photographer said hundreds of fighters armed with bows and arrows and rocks fought pitched battles there as police struggled to contain them.

Police had already reported at least 61 new deaths over the weekend as President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga traded further barbs despite a tentative first peace accord since the start of the crisis.

The toll included four more killed in the Transmara district of western Kenya on Saturday.

Friday's deal, overseen by Annan, aimed to end weeks of unrest that has claimed around 1,000 lives, within two weeks.

Odinga claimed Kibaki robbed him of the presidency in closely fought December 27 elections amid widespread concerns from local and international observers over the vote-counting process.

The new deal called for illegal militias to be disbanded and for the investigation of all related crimes, including those allegedly committed by the police, who have killed scores of people.

Both sides also promised to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis, after 300,000 people have fled their homes.

As thousands languished in makeshift displacement camps across the country, amid reports of rapes and fears of ethnic reprisals, a government newspaper advert reminded Kenyans "you have a right to be wherever you choose in the country."

The political unrest has stirred up latent ethnic clashes, economic and land disputes.

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

Ethnic fighting between villagers armed with bows and arrows, spears and machetes spiralled in western Kenya after the killing of David Kimutai Too in Eldoret on Thursday, the second opposition MP killed in two days.

Police said scores were killed on Friday and Saturday in clashes and a police crackdown in Nyanza province, and in Too's home village of Ainamoi in the Rift Valley province and nearby localities.

While Ainamoi was deserted after a police crackdown Sunday, tension remained high in nearby Nyanza.

Police trailed fighters after they razed more than 100 houses and a primary school, a police commander said, and the trading post of Chepilat was burned down overnight.

Arsonists burnt down a church overnight Friday in the northwestern town of Eldoret where Too was killed, causing no injuries. A total of four schools were burnt in the country -- one overnight Saturday near Eldoret and three others in western Kenya.

Odinga on Sunday called for the deployment of foreign peacekeepers, saying security forces were not impartial in crackdowns.

"It is necessary that we should have a peacekeeping deployment from the United Nations or the African Union because the police have often been misused and we do not have faith in the army to be neutral," he told reporters in his hometown of Bondo, near Kisumu in western Kenya.

The Kenyan army has so far played a backseat role in the crisis, deployed to assist police in clearing road barricades and transporting humanitarian supplies to affected zones.

As the peace roadmap was inked Friday, Kibaki insisted, in a speech in Ethiopia, that opposition protests over the election results be taken to court, and accused the opposition of instigating the violence.

Odinga rejected the claims and said Kibaki's comments "undermined the mediation talks."

He also hinted Sunday that he had a contingency plan in case the talks should fail.

"We have a fall-back (plan)," he said, without elaborating.

The two sides were due to resume Annan-led talks Monday, joined by South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa -- who chairs the African National Congress's Negotiating Commission.

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

Story from AFP on Yahoo News


1 - Kenya's children scarred by violence

By Matt Prodger

BBC News, Nairobi

Van is 13-years-old and comes from the town of Eldoret - one of the flashpoints of Kenya's recent ethnic violence.

As he talks about the events that befell his family a fortnight ago, his voice drops to a whisper.

"My mother was attacked by men with machetes. I didn't see it - when I arrived, there was only blood on the floor."

I went to the neighbour's house - his leg was broken. I was so very scared. He told me to run for my life."

It is a story that could have been told by any one of thousands of Kenya's displaced children.

They've seen people being shot, houses
being burnt, even people being burnt alive

Nicholas Makutsa

Red Cross

More than 60 of them are here in the SOS Children's Home - an orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi.

For the lucky ones, there is a chance their parents may be missing, but still alive.

The rest of them already know that the events of recent weeks have left them orphans.

Nicholas Makutsa from the Red Cross is one of those tasked with tracing missing parents and children.

"They've talked about seeing their parents being killed - they've seen people being shot, houses being burnt, even people being burnt alive. It's been a traumatising experience for them."

And even here, violence is not far away. As we speak, there comes a sound from beyond the gates that causes the children to stiffen with fear - gunshots from a neighbouring slum.

It may be police, or a shoot-out between gangs. But after what these children have witnessed in recent weeks, it is enough to send them scurrying for cover.

Since they arrived here only a handful of children have been reunited with their parents. Today, as they shelter in a classroom from the shooting outside, another one is about to get good news.

Mary is nine-years-old, with a beautiful but troubled face. She stands apart from the other children and says barely a word.

While we are here, the Red Cross gets word that her mother is in fact alive, and on her way to the orphanage.

We meet Rosalind at the gate. She tells us of the day that gangs of youths from another tribe set fire to homes in her neighbourhood.

Mary became separated from Rosalind in the panic. For the past fortnight each has thought the other to be dead.

There are no words between mother and daughter when they are reunited - only silent tears.

Rosalind takes her daughter's hand, walks out of the gate and back into a Kenya that has become a fearful place.

They have no home, no money and only a promise of future peace from their feuding politicians.

Story from BBC NEWS

Published: 2008/02/03 01:01:01 GMT© BBC MMVIII

2 - Agony in camps as MPs appeal for peace

Story by NATION Team

Publication Date: 2/4/2008

About 300,000 Kenyans are still sheltering in at least 44 makeshift camps one month after the disputed presidential election results sparked violence and riots in across the country.

[Photo] Families displaced from various places in Rift Valley Province at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru Town where thousands of people have sought refuge. Photo/ JOSEPH KIHERI and PHOEBE OKALL

Estimates indicate that two thirds of people living in inhuman conditions in these camps are women, children and young people.

At the weekend, signs of hope began to emerge when MPs from different political parties returned to their areas to preach peace.

ODM leader Raila Odinga was at his Bondo rural home where he expressed optimism that ongoing mediated talks in Nairobi would succeed. He called for an end to violence.

Justice minister Martha Karua and 12 other MPs from various regions also took the peace mission to Central, Coast and Rift Valley provinces, which have been adversely affected by ethnic violence.

Meanwhile, the Kofi Annan-led talks to resolve the political turmoil that has seen over 800 people killed resume Monday.

South African negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa arrived in the country on Saturday. The latest arrival to the peace talks, at the invitation of Mr Annan, will be introduced to the seven-member Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation team.

The South African has the reputation of a tough negotiator and skilful strategist. He played a key role in negotiating the end of apartheid and a new constitution for his country.

In Nakuru and its environs alone, at least 100,000 displaced people are scattered in camps.

And in the city, more than 500 displaced people from Juja in Thika District were admitted to Jamhuri Park showground where hundreds of families are camping.

Those interviewed asked to be repatriated to their ancestral homes in Nyanza and Western provinces.

At Juja where 1,675 people, including 703 under 10-year-old children are camping, it was a tale of suffering and misery.

Spokesman Willis Onyango, 53, described the camp as hell on earth.

“Even after losing all our belongings, some marauding gangs are still following us inside the police station, threatening us with dire consequences if we don’t leave.”

Another 500 people were camping at Nairobi’s Mathare chief’s camp.

In Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia, at least 100,000 people in seven camps face starvation. They have asked for food aid, Red Cross’ Paul Birech said.

Tea farms
At Tigoni Police in Limuru, 300 people were ferried to their rural homes in Nyanza and Western, while some returned to tea farms and factories where they worked.

At least 6,100 were still at the station while 200 were to leave for their homes Monday.

In Kakamega, some 3,000 people were camping at a police station.

Story from Nation

3 - Annan team to focus on polls


Publication Date: 2/4/2008

The talks aimed at ending the political crisis enter a crucial stage which could determine Kenya’s future.

After a taking a weekend break, the dialogue team is expected to turn the spotlight on the emotive issue of disputed poll results.

Respected South African negotiator Cyril Ramaphosa who jetted into the country on Friday is also expected to be introduced to the dialogue team headed by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.

The South African lawyer, businessman, trade unionist, activist and politician is to be involved in the dialogue following Mr Annan’s invitation.

Sources said the trade unionist will be a facilitator in the discussions.

Widely respected as a skilful and formidable negotiator and strategist, Mr Ramaphosa is best known for building up the biggest and most powerful trade union in South Africa-The National Union of Mine Workers.

Between 1995 and 1997, Mr Ramaphosa mediated the peace process in strife torn-Northern Ireland.

Mr Ramaphosa is expected to return to South Africa Monday before returning later.

Mr Ramaphosa is said to have held talks with PNU leaders Amos Kimunya, Samuel Poghisio and Sam Ongeri Sunday evening. Details of their discussion remained unknown although sources said the three questioned Mr Ramaphosa’s alleged business association with ODM leader Raila Odinga.

The South African denied any business links with Mr Odinga. The dialogue team comprises PNU’s Martha Karua, Prof Ongeri, lawyer Mutula Kilonzo and ODM’s Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, Dr Sally Kosgei and James Orengo.

ODM have taken issue with President Kibaki’s remarks that problems in Kenya can be resolved locally through courts.

The President told the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa that ODM was behind the violence which he added was premeditated.

Mr Odinga has asked the President to explain why he sent representatives to the Annan-led talks even as he pointed his fingers to court arbitration. He said ODM representatives at the dialogue will register their unhappiness with the President’s statement at talks Monday.

The dialogue team has agreed on short-term issues to addressed within 15 days since talks were launched.

They include holding of joint rallies to promote peace and order against police use of live bullets on unarmed civilians in unjustifiable circumstances.

Story from Nation

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In this section

Kikuyu flee Rift Valley in terror as homes are burned to the ground

Wave of anarchy blamed on Kenya's 'General Coward'
Shooting of second Kenyan MP leads to wave of revenge killings
Kenya peace talks in disarray after killing of second opposition MP
Parties agree to talk as Kenyan violence worsens
US envoy says violence in Kenya is ethnic cleansing
The question: What's going on in Kenya?
Comment: A bitter wind of grievance
Talks delayed after Kenyan MP shot dead
Letter: A long-term solution to Kenya's conflict
Using golf clubs, rocks and machetes, neighbour turns on neighbour in Kenya
Kenya violence is ethnic cleansing, US envoy says
Q&A: the Kenya crisis
Revenge attacks spread death across Kenya
Annan urges leaders to steer Kenya towards stability

4 - Kikuyu flee Rift Valley in terror as homes are burned to the ground

Local politicians are accused of condoning violence that forced out 500 villagers

Chris McGreal in Mogotio, Rift Valley

Monday February 4, 2008

The Guardian

[Photo] Destroyed homes belonging to members of the Kikuyu tribe in Rift Valley, Kenya. Photograph: Chris McGreal

Councillor Joseph Chelelgo said no one should call it ethnic cleansing just because his town's Kikuyu population had been burned out of their homes. For a start, he claimed, houses were razed only after hundreds of Kikuyu left Mogotio, in the heart of Kenya's strife-torn Rift Valley, for reasons he could not fathom. "If they have already quit and the house is empty then what does it matter if it is burned? They are not coming back," he said. "I think they were afraid but it was nothing to do with people in this town."

That is not how Nancy Magure sees it. She was born in Mogotio 45 years ago. Her parents, children and grandchildren all lived in the town but the mob armed with machetes, bows and arrows and Molotov cocktails that kicked in her front door at about 2am last Tuesday told her that as a Kikuyu she did not belong there.

"We were told 'get out, get out'. When they saw we were resisting, refusing to go, they started burning the house," she said. "We knew this was coming. They knew this was coming because they planned it. Now they want to pretend they didn't know."

Magure was one of about 500 Kikuyu forced out of Mogotio, many of them fleeing as flames engulfed their homes.

At the weekend some of the houses were still smouldering. They included the home of Walter Njuguna, a prominent Kikuyu businessman who fled days earlier. Fire was still eating through the thick roof beams. What was not destroyed was plundered as people swarmed over the wrecked house.

Next door, a butchery and house belonging to a Kikuyu woman called Wanjiru were being torn apart by people ripping off the corrugated metal roof and pulling out wooden pillars and window frames.

Some of Mogotio's political leaders said the attacks were a spontaneous reaction to the stealing of the election six weeks ago by President Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu. The vote count turned against the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, a Luo who also has broad support among the Kalenjin majority in the Rift Valley, in suspicious circumstances.

But Magure and other Kikuyu from the town who are now refugees in a stadium in Nakuru, the area's major town 26 miles to the south, said the election dispute was a pretext and that the assault on them was a planned move driven by long-standing enmity from the Kalenjin that amounts to ethnic cleansing.

She named Chelelgo and another councillor, Charles Koskei, as among those responsible.

"We got the threats that we have to leave that place even during the election campaign. They said we are Kikuyu, we don't belong there. It was the Kalenjin youths but it was also the politicians, these councillors and chiefs. They were playing a big role in this during their rallies.

Koskei was promising they would remove 'the decorations', and the decorations were the Kikuyu.

"They said those who do not belong here must go back to where they belong. They said if we win or if we lose, it is the same, you must go. This was something organised," said Magure.

It is a claim made by many Kikuyu who have fled towns and villages in the Rift Valley and who are now crammed into Nakuru. They reeled off their former homes - Eldoret, Molo, Burnt Forest and places beyond - and then named chiefs and political leaders they said incited people against the Kikuyu.

No one was killed in Mogotio but about 10 Kikuyu were murdered in outlying areas, just a fraction of the nearly 1,000 official death toll in violence across Kenya since December's disputed presidential election.

The killing in western Kenya continued at the weekend with scores more murdered and thousands of people - Kikuyu, Luo, Kalenjin - on the move to escape the violence.

Most of Mogotio's Kikuyu fled to Nakuru but a few sought shelter in the police compound to guard the last of their possessions. Among them was Ibrahim Madedi, 69, who was sitting in front of a pile of old beds, plastic water tanks, milk crates and a wheelbarrow. His seven children, 15 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren - all born in Mogotio - had fled the town.

"They came at night banging on the door and told us to get out even if you are naked from your bed and then they poured paraffin on the house and burned it," he said.

Madedi said the attitude towards the Kikuyu soured during the election campaign and long before the contested result was announced. "These guys didn't want anyone to vote for Kibaki.

They said they don't want to see any different flowers here. The message was that if you vote for Kibaki you are not part of the community. They were saying when we win, you will go," he said.

Charles Koskei, the councillor, runs a general store in the centre of the town. As he talked, people stopped to greet him and shake his hand. He disputed Magure's claim that he said the Kikuyu would have to leave. "That's lies. Nobody said that," he said.

But Koskei paused and then added: "During campaigns people here had different techniques of acquiring votes so you use any language to get votes. Some other candidate was telling people that if he was voted out they would have to leave. But that was not me."

Asked who it was, Koskei said only that it was "an opponent".

The election was the immediate cause of the violence across Kenya but in the Rift Valley it is underpinned by longstanding ethnic rivalries over land distribution after British colonisation.

No group suffered more under British rule than the Kikuyu, who were robbed of the best of their land in the region north of Nairobi by white settlers and forced into a subservient existence.

But the British also took land in the Rift Valley that was once the home of the Kalenjin. At independence, Kenya's first president, Jomo Kenyatta, turned over large areas of the valley to his fellow Kikuyu. The Kalenjin believed they had been robbed twice, particularly as the Kikuyu finally began to prosper.

Kenyatta's successor, Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin, exploited that resentment to divide and rule before elections and to gerrymander the vote. Fifteen years ago several thousand Kenyans died in fighting stirred by Moi to target Kikuyu calling for multi-party democracy.

Those divisions can still be heard in the language of the councillors and other Kalenjin in Mogotio, who talk about themselves as the "locals" and Kikuyu as outsiders.

Koskei lumps all the town's Kikuyu into the same category: as Kibaki supporters collectively responsible for the Kenyan president's actions in the disputed election. "It was clear Kibaki represented the Kikuyu and Odinga was for the other tribes. It was 41 tribes against the Kikuyu.

That meant tensions were so high," he said. "Nobody chased them. They just feared and they left. Their houses were empty so they were burned. I think the language during that time made them run away," he said.

The government sent in paramilitary police after the local force failed to stop the burnings and attacks. One of its senior officers in Mogotio, who did not want to be named, said it looked to him as if there was an organised and systematic move to rid the town of its Kikuyu population.

Koskei said the Kikuyu were welcome to return to Mogotio - provided they recognised that Odinga had won the election.

"If they don't come back then the tribal rift will remain. If the election is resolved everything will be over but so long as Kibaki is president they should not come here," he said.

There seems little prospect of an early return. The attacks on the Kikuyu has prompted an equally violent response against the Kalenjin and their Luo allies in other parts of the Rift Valley.
Communities are separating.

At the weekend thousands were in the move; Kikuyu headed east in lorries piled high with battered furniture, plastic water tanks and bicycles.

Ibrahim Madedi said he did not think he or his family would ever return to the only place they called home.

"These people don't want Kikuyu in their town. When they burn you out of your house there is only one message there," he said.

Story from Guardian

5 - Wave of anarchy blamed on Kenya's 'General Coward'

As the post-election death toll nears 1,000 and towns go up in flames, more Kenyans are saying the 'holy' President and his elite advisers are to blame

Xan Rice in Othaya

Sunday February 3, 2008

The Observer

Mount Kenya rises in the distance, its glaciers reflecting the sharp morning light. Tea bushes cover the slopes around the huge estate, with its high walls and three separate entrances, one manned by heavily armed policemen. If the pre-election predictions had been followed, the 76-year-old golf-loving, aloof owner of the estate in Othaya should have been strolling in its neat gardens, enjoying his first month of retirement and reflecting on his legacy of furthering Kenya's passage towards democracy.

But instead Mwai Kibaki is holed up in State House in Nairobi, three hours' drive away, fighting to entrench his presidential power following a highly contentious election victory that has plunged Kenya into its worst crisis since independence. In little over a month more than 900 people have been killed, 300,000 people displaced, and entire towns split along ethnic lines.

Yesterday the violence continued. In the town of Kericho in the Rift Valley, hundreds of homes belonging to people of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe were being set alight by gangs of youths.

Kibaki's handling of the crisis, so far limited to one brief visit to displaced people and reading out a few pre-written statements insisting he won fairly, has invited fierce criticism.

The normally pro-government Daily Nation newspaper warned Kibaki: 'If Kenya disintegrates, history books will record that the collapse of a once great, united and prosperous country happened on your watch'.

The Nairobi Star was headlined: 'Where is Kibaki? ... as Kenya slips into anarchy'.

Other questions come from millions of Kenyans struggling to understand what is happening in their country. How could people have misread a man who has been in government since independence, regarded as the gentleman of Kenyan politics? What motivated an already wealthy President, with little apparent ego, caricatured in newspapers as enjoying afternoon naps, to stage what the opposition has called a 'civilian coup'?

'I have spoken to nearly every prominent columnist in this country and asked "Did you see this coming?"' said Wycliffe Muga, one of Kenya's best-known journalists. 'None of them did.

...From being a detached, almost aristocratic President, Kibaki suddenly seemed to change overnight into a scheming, duplicitous leader willing to see bloodshed in his thirst for power.'

Some are looking into Kibaki's past to see whether they missed the warning signs of a leader who would take more than 40 years to reveal his true colours.

A brilliant student at the London School of Economics, Kibaki entered Kenya's first post-independence government in 1963. Six years later he stood in Nairobi's Bahati constituency against Jael Mbogo, the popular head of Kenya's biggest women's association.

He won by a wafer-thin margin in remarkably similar circumstances to December's election; behind in the early tallying, the verdict was delayed for days and a crack squad of police officers swarmed around the vote-counting centre when the result was announced.

'I was so far ahead in early vote counting that even the BBC even reported that a young woman had felled a government minister,' Mbogo, now a civil society activist in Nairobi, told The Observer.

'Kibaki stalled the result, and then robbed me of victory. Because he
looks so holy, people are still asking if he really was capable of stealing this election. What I say is "Of course, he has done it before".' - Jael Mbogo, civil society activist, Nairobi

As Vice-President under Daniel arap Moi, Kibaki was well regarded. His family become rich through his contacts, but he was never tainted by corruption. He was happiest on the golf course and in the colonial-era Muthaiga Club where he held court with Nairobi's elite Kikuyus; politicians and businessmen, the lines between them often blurred.

His reluctance to press for multipartyism earned him the nickname General Coward. But by the 2002 election, after 24 years of Moi's misrule, a strongman was the last thing Kenyans were looking for. Kibaki was a safe pair of hands.

'Kibaki is the one politician I have always trusted in Kenya,' said Philip Machila, 67, who used to attend party meetings with Kibaki. 'The only problem he has always had is some of the people around him.'

The 'bad-influence' theory is always used to excuse Kibaki. Throughout his first term in office he was surrounded and shielded by old friends, virtually all Kikuyu. Initially Kibaki needed protecting.

Badly injured in a car accident a few weeks before he was sworn in in 2002, he was then reported to have had a stroke. For much of 2003 it was unclear whether Kibaki would complete his term. His memory was as shaky as his walk.

His health improved but access to him has not. He has not given a single media interview since he became President in 2002 and does not take questions at rare news conferences.

Several of Kibaki's Kikuyu golfing friends have assumed significant influence at State House in recent years. 'Some of these people hold very strong thoughts about the superiority of the Kikuyus and their inherent right to govern,' said a former government minister. 'It's a case of "We helped end British rule using the Mau Mau, and we are the ones that keep the economy ticking over. The other 42 ethnic groups are welcome to live in Kenya, but only we can rule".'

He said he did not believe 'the President is calling the shots at all. He always has to consult the hardliners around him'.

'It was not until September last year that we could even get him out on the campaign trail,' said an adviser to Kibaki's PNU party. 'He seemed very reluctant for a long time.' But the adviser rejected the assertion that Kibaki is not completely in charge: 'He attends a security briefing even morning. He understands his legacy will be hurt if this current crisis does not end well.'

Even with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Nairobi this weekend, supporting mediation efforts chaired by Kofi Annan, Kibaki made a speech to the African Union that could hardly have been more antagonistic towards opposition supporters, already on edge after the murder of two opposition MPs last week. He reiterated that the election result was fair and that the opposition was to blame for the violence. It should take its election grievances to the courts, he said, and blamed unnamed foreign countries for suggesting a power-sharing.

This hardline stance at a time when towns like Kericho are in flames - and his quiet dismissal of Murage a fortnight ago - means there is an increasing body of people who now believe that Kibaki alone must take the blame for the country's mess.

'I honestly believe he is the man driving the whole operation; the ineptly rigged election and the aftermath,' said David Ndii, a Nairobi-based analyst. 'Kibaki very much knows what is happening, and must be held responsible.'

Story from Guardian

6 - Business group aims to solve Kenyan crisis

By TOM MALITI, Associated Press
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2008

[Photo] Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (right) meet with former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday. AP/KAREL PRINSLOO 02/03/2008 -->

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Kenyan entrepreneurs are hoping the business sense of the nation's rival political leaders can help the two men resolve an election dispute that exploded into nationwide violence.

Since the Dec. 27 vote that opposition leader Raila Odinga accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing, more than 800 people have been killed in riots and ethnic fighting and some 255,000 people have been forced from their homes.

The economy in what had been the region's powerhouse also is suffering, with ports idle, stocks plummeting and tourists fleeing.

"This is where history teaches us some things ... in places that have kind of experienced this, it was the business community, and through their strength, that stood up and forced ... people to come together," said Steve Smith, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, which has been meeting with Kibaki and Odinga to get them to a peaceful resolution.

In South Africa in the 1980s, the business community helped convince the white government to rethink apartheid. South Africa held its first multiracial multiparty elections in 1994.

Kibaki, who has business interests in farming, hotels and retail shops, and Odinga, an industrialist who owns the country's leading manufacturer of cylinders, have welcomed the business community's efforts.

During a meeting with delegates from the Private Sector Alliance, Kibaki pledged "to take all the necessary measures to ensure that both local and international investors recover from the losses they made as a result of the current political situation," according to his press service.

Odinga has spent up to six hours with the business group in the past two weeks because his Orange Democratic Movement party takes, "extremely seriously," their efforts to get the two sides talking, said his spokesman, Salim Lone.

The Kenya Private Sector Alliance estimates that over the next six months up to 400,000 Kenyans are likely to lose their jobs as part of the economic fallout from the dispute.

It also projects that businesses will lose up to $3.6 billion over the next six months, even if the crisis is resolved immediately.

Two weeks ago, the World Bank and African Development Bank jointly chimed in to say that as many as 2 million Kenyans could sink back into poverty, living on less than a dollar (euro) a day.

"The future is very uncertain," said Sandip Shah, whose household goods shop in the Rift Valley town of Kisumu was looted Dec. 29 by Kisumu residents outraged at the delay in the presidential vote tally.

"I lost everything in the space of 30 minutes," Shah said, shaking his head as he looked at the charred remains of his shop. Looters stole most of his stock and wrenched open the safe before setting the place ablaze. The shop's seven employees are now jobless.

Shah employs over 250 people in the city where he owns other businesses, including a plastics factory. His other businesses were untouched, but remain closed amid the tension.

"It's a very volatile situation now," Shah said. "It's likely that I'll have to lay more people off because the sales are not there.

"There's nothing to say that this violence won't start again. It makes you think twice about investing money in such an unstable environment."

Besides the business efforts, a former U.N. secretary-general is acting as mediator and the international community is using diplomatic pressure and aid threats to seek a solution to the violence.

Story from AP at DelawareOnline

7 - Kenya talks set to resume but violence continues

Sun 3 Feb 2008, 23:23 GMT
By Tim Cocks

NAIROBI, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan will try to push Kenya's rival sides to resolve the political crisis on Monday after a weekend of clashes cast a pall over a framework deal meant to stop weeks of post-election bloodshed.

Annan mediated an agreement between the parties on Friday to take steps to end violence that has killed around 900 people, plus a commitment to resolve the crisis within 15 days.

But his efforts were undermined by harsh words traded between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga on Friday and fresh clashes between groups of youths claiming allegiance to one side or the other.

Kibaki says he fairly won a Dec. 27 election that returned him to power; Odinga says he stole it.

In Kenya's volatile and ethnically mixed western region, gangs fired arrows and threw rocks at each other in front of police who were unable or unwilling to intervene on Sunday.

A quarter of a million people have so far been displaced by the fighting and hundreds of homes have been burned.

In an indication of gangs being organised, a white pickup delivered food and milk to youths in Chebilat before they used tyres, petrol and straw to torch a medical centre.

The opposition called on Sunday for the African Union to deploy peacekeepers in Kenya to contain the violence, saying local security forces could not be trusted to be non-partisan.

Despite Annan's efforts, Kibaki and Odinga remain at loggerheads, their bitter feud still raging over who won a vote observers said was too badly run for anyone to know.

If Annan achieves a compromise between them, it is not clear how quickly that will quell ethnic tensions, which have spiralled in a country long seen as east Africa's most stable.

What started as a political dispute has uncorked decades-old divisions between tribal groups over land, wealth and power, dating from British colonial rule and stoked by Kenyan politicians for personal gain during 44 years of independence.

© Reuters 2008. All Rights Reserved. Learn more about Reuters

Story from Reuters

8 - Kenya's Divisions Aren't Only Tribal

By KATHARINE HOURELD – 8 hours ago

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — When Steve Maina finishes a round of golf at Kenya's exclusive Windsor club, a waistcoated waiter hurries over with a tall iced drink while armed guards watch discreetly from the shrubbery, a few minutes' drive from one of Nairobi's oldest slums.

That's Mathare, the shantytown where Cliff Owino's tin shack leans over a river of sewage and almost every morning a corpse with machete wounds turns up in an alley.

Most of the time, these two faces of Kenya, so close geographically, exist on different planes. But clashes triggered by Kenya's disputed elections on Dec. 27 set them on a collision course.

Some 800 people have died and more than 300,000 been displaced after opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the slim margin that secured him another five-year term.

Many factors contributed to the violence — frustration over poverty and corruption, ethnic rivalries exploited by politicians, criminal gangs and competition over land — but most of all the feeling of Kenya's poor that Kibaki's much-touted economic boom is passing them by.

"We are the weak," complains 25-year-old Owino in the gloom of his tiny shack where Odinga stares down from a poster on the wall. Owino has dog-eared dictionaries and books on philosophy to read by the light of a gas lantern. He dreams of going to college but knows he can never afford the fees.

"We work harder than a donkey but we can never be rich," he says.

Owino is a Luo, the same ethnic group as his hero Odinga. But he says that tribe, often used as a shorthand to explain the country's strife, didn't come into it. Sitting in his dark, leaky shack, Owino explains he voted for Odinga because he promised to change the corruption of the current regime and spread the country's wealth.

In 2002, the candidate of change was Kibaki, of the Kikuyu tribe, Kenya's largest. The man he was seeking to unseat was the notoriously corrupt President Daniel arap Moi, who had driven the country's economy into the ground. Odinga campaigned vigorously for Kibaki then, winning him votes from the slums.

Kibaki, an economist, won the 2002 election, and since then tourism and agriculture have led economic growth averaging 5 percent a year. But the gap between rich and poor has widened substantially.

"If this matter (of elections) is not resolved, we don't have a better future," Owino said, explaining why he braves police bullets to hit the streets every time Odinga calls a demonstration. "If we don't have a future, I don't see the point of living."

But those surfing the wave of Kenya's prosperity blame politicians as well as poverty for the violence.

"The election campaigns implied it would be like a light switch: You move out of the slums overnight, you'll be driving a car," says Maina, 38, his gold wedding ring flashing as his golf ball sails through the air.

Maina and many of his friends are Kikuyu. In the aftermath of the elections, Kikuyus have been murdered and their businesses burned.

By the sculpted lake at the Windsor, which costs nearly $5,000 to join, Maina's friends swap tales of previously friendly neighbors who forced Kikuyus out of homes and tried to take over businesses. In the west of the country, which has seen the worst violence, his golfing partner's hairdresser had her salon taken over by neighbor from another tribe and another friend forced from her home because she was Kikuyu.

"People were expecting to take over property," said Maina, who employs five people to look after his own home. "Instead of saying why don't we create more of that wealth, they want to grab it and distribute it. I was worried this could turn into a class war."

But the police have largely kept protesters penned in the slums with tear gas and live bullets, and politicians capitalized on long-held land grievances to channel the violence on ethnic, rather than economic, lines.

"The Kikuyus have been demonized," says Maina. "Politicians on both sides are to blame, but those of Odinga's party "have been preaching a campaign of hate."
Owino also fears ethnicity is looming too large.

"We are not fighting Kikuyus, we are fighting the government," he insists, as rain turns the mud and sewage to sludge outside his door. "They were not for change, they were for the status quo."

If there is ethnic violence, he says, it is because Kikuyus are not sharing their power. Kenya's first president after independence from Britain, Jomo Kenyatta, was a Kikuyu. Moi, of the Kalenjin tribe, came next, then Kibaki, a Kikuyu. Now the Luo feel it is their turn. Kikuyus "want to dominate us .... We are not being ruled by people representing all Kenyans," Owino said.

Maina, an executive with a private medical firm, insists that he has never been helped by his tribe or government connections. No one is stopping anyone else from making money, Maina points out. He says he takes his own children into the slums to help on a church project supporting a school.

"We work our butts off. Many hours, over the weekend, at night you are on that laptop," he says to nods of agreement from friends.

Yet Maina, who voted for the ruling party, knows that his country is sitting on an economic time bomb.

"The violence will subside, but the injustice will remain, and if those injustices are not addressed, we will be back here again," he says sadly. "The election gave them (the poor) a sense of hope and it was taken away."

Owino occasionally makes $6 a day as a construction worker, and lives in a slum so violent it's nicknamed Baghdad.

"Kibaki gave us promises but they ended up in dust," Owino said. "Now they want calm. What about justice?"

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Story from AP at Google News

9 - view: Why Kenya is burning

Faryal Virk

Monday, February 04, 2008

The solution for Kenya lies in an inclusive government of
national unity comprising Kenyans who care for their country and who are willing to be held accountable for their actions

The last four weeks have been painful for many Kenyans who are agonising over the violence gripping their country following disputed presidential elections. Almost nine hundred people have been beaten, burned or hacked to death by rampaging mobs. A quarter of a million are displaced because of senseless violence that is driven by deep-rooted tribal rivalries and mistrust.

Suddenly, an apparently stable democracy in Africa has turned into a battlefield and is spiralling towards mayhem. However, the disputed elections are an excuse to vent the anger and frustration developed over years.

Pre-election Kenya was not the stable country the international media would have the world believe. Tribal rivalries, violent crime and fear have been part of Kenyan life for many years, and it is overly simplistic to attribute the current situation solely to the Kikuyu-Luo tribal rivalry.

These seeds of mistrust were sown soon after 1963, when Kenya became an independent democratic state led by president Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, and his vice president Oginga Odinga, a Luo. These men represented the two largest tribes in the country.

By 1970, Kenyatta fell out with Odinga and dealt with him, and subsequently any other opposition, through detention and repression. He thus pushed aside the representation of the country’s second largest tribe and created the first fissure in Kenyan society.

Kenyatta perpetuated his rule by taking advantage of domestic and international opportunities. He initiated land reform, with much of the distribution favouring the Kikuyu. His programme of ‘Africanisation’ to provide indigenous Kenyans economic opportunity was seen to benefit the Kikuyu more than others, although in fairness the Kikuyu were historically the most entrepreneurial of the African tribes.

Additionally, Kenyatta ruled by terror, systematically stifling dissent: curbs on the press, detention without trial, mysterious car accidents and midnight disappearances were common. He declared himself president for life and Kenya effectively became a one-party state. An atmosphere of fear prevailed in the country and widened the chasm between the people and their government.

These were the days of the Cold War, when the superpowers preferred dictators, and Kenya became an important US ally against Soviet influence in the region. [Kenya's] northern border was a gateway to Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia, making it a suitable command centre for insurgents in those countries. Mombasa became a port of call for the US Rapid Deployment Force which kept an eye on the Middle East and the vital Red Sea shipping route.

Britain also continued its close relationship with Kenyatta, helping quell an insurgency and a mutiny by deploying British troops from a training facility permanently based in Kenya. The western world turned a blind eye to what was happening in the country.

But there was discontent under the surface. Corruption was endemic. Infrastructure development was not in step with population growth and social needs. Rural-urban migration increased, as did unemployment and the growth of slums in the cities. The country was beginning to fragment economically. However, foreign aid continued to prop up the system.

Kenyatta died in 1978 and was succeeded by vice president Daniel Arap Moi, a member of the Kalenjin tribe. Initial support for his regime quickly waned and following an abortive coup in 1982, he became dictatorial. He legislated Kenya as a one-party state where queuing behind election candidates replaced the secret ballot. The government became associated with secret police, torture cells and unprecedented corruption.

But when the Cold War ended, foreign aid started to dry up. The economy depended on coffee and tea exports, the prices of which stagnated, while oil became more expensive, reducing much-needed earnings. Crime spiralled and tourism, the third largest revenue source, declined. The world changed and the international community began pressing for economic and political reforms.

Kenya had become a pariah and was overlooked in favour of its neighbours: Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni was now a regional heavyweight, economic reform in Tanzania provided investment opportunities and South Africa was the new economic centre for sub-Saharan Africa.

Moi, forced to initiate reform, allowed the establishment of political parties in the country. Elections held in 1992 and 1997 were won by his party primarily because the opposition was fragmented along tribal lines.

However, in 2002, a united opposition came into power, and Mwai Kibaki, once part of the Moi cabinet, became president.

After 1997, Kenya entered a new democratic era. But corruption, violent crime and poverty continued to plague the country.

The infrastructure was a shambles: most of the 31 million population lacked access to basic necessities such as water, power, education and healthcare.

The gap between rich and poor widened, exacerbated by droughts that reduced agricultural productivity and increased migration to urban centres.

This is the atmosphere in which the December 2007 elections were held, and although people voted on tribal lines, they did so in the hope that their candidate would work to improve their lives.

Kofi Annan is spearheading an international effort to get President Mwai Kibaki and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to resolve their differences so that the situation is contained and Kenya returns to its old, peaceful self. But how will this happen?

If Kofi Annan successfully brokers a power sharing agreement between Kibaki and Odinga, there may be an opportunity for Kenya’s leaders to take responsibility for dousing the flames that are rapidly engulfing the country.

On a positive note, Kenyan civil society has been active in calling for peace and uniting to hold both Odinga and Kibaki responsible and answerable to the nation.

Furthermore, Kenyans are wary of calling in the army for fear that they might never return to the barracks.

The solution for Kenya lies in an inclusive government of national unity comprising Kenyans who care for their country and who are willing to be held accountable for their actions.

Besides much needed national reconciliation, they must adhere to a programme to reduce government waste and focus on economic and social development.

These are no doubt difficult tasks, but not doing so will cause Kenya to slide into anarchy.

Kenyans are headed to a trial by fire, and how they choose to emerge from it will decide the fate of their country.

--Faryal Virk, who grew up in Kenya, is a chartered accountant living in Texas

Story from Daily Times

10 - Kenya Displaced Face Health Risk

By Lisa Schlein


03 February 2008
Schlein report - Download (MP3) Schlein report - Listen (MP3)

The World Health Organization says it is very concerned for the health of tens of thousands of people who fled their homes following post-election violence in Kenya at the end of December.

WHO reports people displaced by ethnic clashes in the Rift Valley lack critical health care. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from WHO headquarters in Geneva.

Luo families displaced by ethnic violence in the Rift Valley town of Nakuru arrive near the western town of Kericho, 01 Feb 2008More than 800 people have been killed and many more injured since ethnic riots broke out in Kenya following the disputed presidential election on December 27. An estimated quarter of a million people have fled their homes. Most are living in makeshift camps or with host communities in Kenya's Rift Valley.

The United Nations estimates more than 75 percent of the internally displaced are women and children. It says many of the children are orphaned or have been separated from their families.

A Spokeswoman for the World Health Organization, Fadela Chaib, tells VOA water and sanitation conditions in the camps are dire. She says the WHO is concerned this will lead to water and food-borne diseases.

"For the time being, we have no confirmed information about epidemics. But we are afraid about measles because people are living in crowded conditions, and also about the spread of HIV/AIDS because of the cases of rape and gender sexual violence. We are also afraid that people will die because they do not have access to life saving drugs, especially for people who are sick from diabetes, for example. They need regular daily treatments," she said.

Chaib says the World Health Organization, along with the Kenyan Red Cross and other partners, is helping the Kenyan Ministry of Health assess the health needs.

She says the team is looking at the situation in over 60 makeshift camps to find out what medicines are needed and what the most pressing health needs are. She says people are moving around so much it is difficult to know what they need.

"Kenya is quite a poor country. The maternal mortality is very high. It is one of the highest in the world. The mortality under-five is very high too," added Chaib. "Malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, acute respiratory infection are the main health threats in the country. With this violence, our fear is that people will not get the care they need."

The World Health Organization is appealing for an initial two million dollars to provide drugs and health care services for more than 90,000 people displaced in the Rift Valley.

Chaib says it is already clear there is a shortage of antibiotics, children's medicines, malaria medicines and life-saving drugs for chronic diseases including asthma, hypertension and diabetes.

Story from Voice of America

11 - Tanzania to benefit from Kenya’s tragedy

By PHILIP NGUNJIRI Special Correspondent

The current delays at the port of Mombasa and disruption of transport along the Northern Corridor in Kenya will see Tanzania become an alternative trade route for the landlocked countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to Lineth Oyugi, a macroeconomist at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, Tanzania’s political stability and positive development record — as well as its position as a regional trade centre, albeit of smaller significance than Kenya — will see it benefit immensely from the current political stalemate in the latter country.

“Dar es Salaam only needs to perfect its clearance system and the port of Mombasa could become irrelevant,” she said.

The same applies to Kenya’s tourism industry, already hard hit by reservation cancellations as well as international travel warnings, with tourists now being redirected to Tanzania, she added.

Only last week, Tanzania and Rwanda signed an agreement that will enable the latter to use Dar es Salaam port to ferry its petroleum products.

According to Basil Mramba, Tanzania’s Industry Trade and Marketing Minister, the Tanzania Ports Authority and the Tanzania Railways are working to improve handling of cargo destined for the landlocked country.

Petroleum products will be cleared at the Kurasini oil jetty in Dar es Salaam. The leader of the Rwandan delegation, Mitali Protais, who is also Industry, Commerce, Empowerment, Tourism and Co-operation Minister, said his country had been thinking for sometime now of using Dar es Salaam to ease cargo haulage.

Both countries are considering improving the facilities at the Isaka dry port to facilitate cargo destined for Rwanda. Uganda is also reported to be holding talks with the Tanzanian government on the possibility of using Dar es Salaam instead of the Mombasa port.

Currently, Dar es Salaam is unable to cope with the sudden demand for services as there has been significant redirection of cargo from Mombasa to Dar es Salaam.

Even in the long run, the transition will not be smooth as Tanzania has inherent drawbacks, including the road and rail transportation, which need total revamping. “Irrespective of the additional costs, once these neighbours get the leeway, they will not be coming back to Kenya soon,” adds Ms Oyugi.

Tanzania Ports Authority communications manager Franklin Mziray says they have made arrangement to receive and handle the influx of cargo. TPA is ready to handle the rising number of containers passing through Dar es Salaam he said.

Currently, the authority is undertaking a major expansion of the port.

Road blocks, railway line destruction and violence affecting key towns in the western part of Kenya have led to shortages of food, fuel and consumer goods across the country, forcing international agencies to come in with humanitarian aid.

A two-kilometre railway line passing through the Kibera slum was damaged by rowdy youth, completely cutting off the western region. According to the Rift Valley Railways, the company running the country’s rail service, the repairs cost the company Ksh12.5 million ($178,570), but the disruption cost the firm Ksh400 million ($5.7 million) in lost business.

To counter future destruction of the rail system, the Kenya government will fast-track the construction of a 17-km parallel railway bypass to supplement the portion that passes through Kibera.

The line, which is expected to be completed in nine months, will follow the Southern Road bypass and cost the government Ksh900 million ($12.8 million).

Passenger transporters too lost millions of shillings as rowdy mobs blocked key highways to western Kenya.

According to the chairman of the Matatu Owners Association, Simon Kimutai, vehicles owners have withdrawn their fleet in big numbers. “Some of our members lost their matatus to the rioters,” he said.

These disruptions are not only taking their toll on the Kenyan economy, but have also begun to pressurise the regional economic landscape. Food and fuel supply lines have been severely disrupted, which will definitely boost inflation.

Prices of basic commodities and services have already shot up. Fuel is selling at between Ksh250 ($3.57) and Ksh300 ($4.28) per litre in Kericho and Kisii, two of the areas worst hit by the violence.

In Kisumu, the local economy has been seriously damaged. Several shops were looted or burned down.

Shortages of key raw materials such as milk has forced some factories to lay off some of their workers while others have shut down altogether. Worst affected is the agriculture-rich North Rift, which has been cut off from the rest of the country.

Regular supply of raw materials and access to the market are not guaranteed any more for some key manufacturers.

East African Breweries Ltd has reported loss of key facilities to protesters in North Rift, Kericho, Kisumu and Kisii.

Story from East African

12 - KENYA: No stranger to brinkmanship, Ramaphosa joins mediation team

Photo: Shanduka Group

Cyril Ramaphosa

JOHANNESBURG, 1 February 2008 (IRIN) - South African Cyril Ramaphosa has joined the mediation team led by Kofi Annan to deal with Kenya's post-election crisis. Once billed as the man most likely to succeed Nelson Mandela as president of South Africa, Ramaphosa, 55, has the reputation of being a tough negotiator and a skilful strategist. He and Roelf Meyer, from the former National Party, played a key role in negotiating the end of apartheid and a new constitution in the early 1990s.

The negotiating skills of Ramaphosa and Meyer, both lawyers, acquired a towering reputation and soon after the African National Congress (ANC) took office in 1994 they were called to mediate the peace process in strife-torn Northern Ireland from 1995 to 1997.

"It was his ability to drive people right to the edge and make the stakes really high, so that [differing] parties have no choice - and it was that quality that drove the negotiations [in South Africa in the early 1990s]," said Mark Gevisser, political commentator and author. "He has ice in his veins - besides, he has also really learnt the art of finding language to express what both sides want without fudging the issues."

After founding the National Union of Mineworkers in 1982 and building it into South Africa's biggest trade union, Ramaphosa was elected secretary-general of the ANC in 1991 and subsequently led the party's negotiating team during transitional talks with the National Party.

He opted for a career in business soon after Thabo Mbeki was anointed Mandela's successor and continues to play a prominent role in the private sector.

"Cyril is a very clear thinker and is very committed to bringing about a peaceful resolution," said Meyer, former Minister of Provincial and Constitutional Affairs in the government of national unity that took office in 1994, who has worked closely with Ramaphosa. "He has the ability to see differences almost immediately, and the way forward."

Jeremy Cronin, an ANC and South African Communist party leader, said Ramaphosa's role in promoting the peace process in Northern Ireland had been complimented time and again by Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader.

Cronin noted Ramaphosa's toughness, "which might really be what is required in Kenya, and Cyril's ability to bring a sense of appreciation of the big picture of what really is at stake" and said Ramaphosa also had a "tremendous ability to listen - he has the right mix of patience and steely resolve."


Story from IRIN

Google News Alert for: Kenya

Kenya's Divisions Aren't Only Tribal

The Associated Press - NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — When Steve Maina finishes a round of golf at Kenya's exclusive Windsor club, a waistcoated waiter hurries over with a tall iced drink ...See all stories on this topic

Kenya opposition wants AU troops to halt killing

Reuters - USA

NAIROBI, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition called on the African Union on Sunday to deploy peacekeepers in the country as violence that has killed at ...See all stories on this topic

Kenya Displaced Face Health Risk

Voice of America - USA

More than 800 people have been killed and many more injured since ethnic riots broke out in Kenya following the disputed presidential election on December ...See all stories on this topic

Tanzania to benefit from Kenya’s tragedy

Daily Nation - Nairobi,Kenya


The current delays at the port of Mombasa and disruption of transport along the Northern Corridor in Kenya will see Tanzania become an ...See all stories on this topic

Pope prays for peace and reconciliation in Kenya

Reuters - USA

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict expressed his hope on Sunday that a peace deal can end the violence sparked by Kenya's disputed election and called ...See all stories on this topic

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