Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sojourners on Kenya

This is one Sojourners blog entry on Kenya:

Also we have a daily news digest that comes out, that updates the issues in Kenya almost daily:

Wangari Maathai featured on Speaking of Faith - Th 4/24/2008

Speaking of Faith
Planting the Future, with Wangari Maathai:
Maathai is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who's fought against a dictator -- and won -- and combatted the encroaching desert by planting 30 million trees. She shares her wisdom on why preventing ecological crises can undercut the root causes of war and famine, on the global balance of human and natural resources, and on where she sees God residing.

Find more at:

Today's headlines - Thurs 4/24/2008

Kenyan leaders tour trouble spot - BBC

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have begun a tour of the Rift Valley, the area hardest hit by post-election violence.

About 1,500 people died and 600,000 fled their homes in violence after a disputed presidential poll in December.

The two men, who recently formed a power-sharing government, are to meet some of the 140,000 people still homeless after the clashes.

Outbreaks of disease have been reported in some of the camps for the displaced.

Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga are beginning their tour in the town of Eldoret, the scene of some of the worst violence, including the burning of a church.

Difficult resettlement

Returning people to their original homes is proving difficult given the land disputes between rival ethnic groups ignited by the political violence, say correspondents.

Prime Minister Odinga has said the new cabinet's priority would be to resettle those still living rough because of the violence.

1,500 people killed
600,000 people displaced
140,000 still in camps

The Rift Valley contains fertile farm land and the government is keen to get people back on the land in time to plant crops, says the BBC's Karen Allen in Nairobi.

But members of parliament for the Rift Valley have cautioned against rushing the resettlement of the displaced people until the underlying issues, especially over land ownership, are resolved, says our correspondent.

Kenyan medical workers have said that outbreaks of malaria, diarrhoea and dysentery have hit camps for the homeless, local media have reported.

The outbreaks are being blamed on heavy rains and unsanitary living conditions. Many women and children are sleeping in the cold without blankets, a St John Ambulance official told the Daily Nation.

While people in the camps are wondering why it took their leaders several months to visit the region, some are relieved their plight is being acknowledged, our correspondent says.

Mr Odinga has said the visit to the Rift Valley is to "address a humanitarian crisis that is getting worse and to assess the level of intervention by the coalition government".

But it is not yet clear if he and Mr Kibaki will visit any of the camps for displaced people.

Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga were allies in the 2002 election but fell out afterwards when the president did not name Mr Odinga prime minister after taking office, as they had reportedly agreed.

They stood against each other in elections in December 2007 but violence erupted when Mr Kibaki was sworn in following the polls despite widespread fraud allegations.

Mr Odinga was sworn in as prime minister last week at the head of a coalition cabinet after lengthy negotiations over its makeup.

The rivals signed a deal in February which prescribed an equal share of power.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/04/24 09:09:16 GMT


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FEATURE-Women still a target as Kenya's social wounds gape
Reuters - 10 hours ago
To the outside world, life in Kenya may have returned to normality as a power-sharing accord drew the line under some of the worst tribal clashes since ...

Full text:

FEATURE-Women still a target as Kenya's social wounds gape

Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:04am EDT

By Lisa Ntungicimpaye

NAIROBI, April 24 (Reuters) - More than three months have passed since youths stormed Mary's home in Nairobi's Kibera slum, slashing her leg with a machete as she fled.

But the single mother of five still shudders at the thought the men may hunt her down again, rape or kill her because she belongs to a rival ethnic group.

To the outside world, life in Kenya may have returned to normality as a power-sharing accord drew the line under some of the worst tribal clashes since independence from Britain. But for Mary and others like her, the terror goes on.

"We all used to live together. We don't know where this evil comes from," said the 49 year old, nervously fingering the gash in her leg that has yet to heal. With no sign yet that the rule of law is returning to her neighbourhood, the Kikuyu woman fears her Luo neighbours may come after her again. She is too afraid to give her last name.

Besides more than 1,200 people killed, 300,000 were uprooted and hundreds more sexually assaulted in the wave of violence and reprisal attacks triggered by President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election in December.

As is often the case, women and children were prime targets: the United Nations said the rate of reported rapes doubled during Kenya's crisis. The youngest [known] victim was 1 year old.

Mary, living in east Africa's biggest slum, lost the little she had -- her iron-roofed, mud house -- and is now forced to sleep in the open air, between two ramshackle shacks soiled by garbage and human waste."I can't go back to my house. It was taken over by others.

"When the crisis was making world headlines, United Nations officials said the increasing sexual attacks reflected in part a collapse in Kenya's social order as Kibaki's re-election exposed decades-old divisions between ethnic groups over land, wealth and power.

But even if the attacks have subsided and Kenya's stock and currency markets have made gains since the political accord, the social wounds have yet to heal.

"There is a silent war going on the ground, whereby you have a male from one tribe raping a woman from another tribe," said Elisabeth Muthama, a counsellor at the Nairobi Women's Hospital.

"These cases are prevalent in Kibera -- a Luo man attacks a Kikuyu woman and then Kikuyu men attack Luo women and so on."


Advocacy group the Coalition on Violence Against Women and rights organisation the Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA Kenya) plan to petition the newly sworn-in government for compensation for women affected by the post-election unrest, especially those who were sexually assaulted and raped.

"Militia groups capitalised on that opportunity to do all sorts of heinous things to women, whether it was raping them or inserting objects in their vaginas," said Faith Kasova, coordinator of the Coalition on Violence Against Women.

"The experiences of women were really disgusting."

Nairobi Women's Hospital treated 443 people in the first two months of the year, at the height of the violence. Four out of five were the victims of rape or defilement: 149 children, 193 women and 14 men.

It is still dealing with a trickle of cases motivated by ethnic hatred.

"We had cases of women and girls, who were defiled, raped, sodomised and physically assaulted -- both men and women after the post-election unrest," said Dr Ketra Muhome.

"Lately we have been getting cases of women being raped and sodomised at the same time."

Slums like Kibera -- where unemployment is rife, alcohol abuse prevalent and hundreds of thousands crammed in flimsy shacks -- have long been a breeding ground for attacks.

Fending for her family, Mary relies on the kindness of friends or former neighbours for scraps of food.Like other victims of violence, Mary criticised the government for failing to stop the violence or punish the perpetrators.

"I didn't choose to be a Kikuyu. My whole life has been here in Kibera," she said. "We expected our government to come and see what's happening at the grassroots."

For other victims, the government is invisible.

"We are asking our leaders not to lie to people, saying there is peace," said Catherine Wanja, another Kibera resident living off the kindness of friends after her house was torched.

"They are not thinking of the people that voted for them. We hear there is a government but we don't see it."

(Editing by Katie Nguyen and Sara Ledwith)

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit:

© Thomson Reuters 2008. All rights reserved.

Voice of America
Kenya Faces Divisions Over Resettlement of IDPs
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Monday, April 21, 2008

Today's headlines - Mon 4/21/2008

Kenya: We Cannot Wish Atrocities Away, Washington - 2 hours ago

The Kofi Annan brokered deal signed in February 2008 in Kenya brought President Kibaki and his political opponent Raila Odinga together in what seemed like ...

Annan: Kenya must prosecute militias for political violence The Associated Press
Annan: Kenya must prosecute militias for political violence - AP

By TOM MALITI – 1 day ago

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan authorities should prosecute militias implicated in the country's devastating postelection violence, but also address any "genuine grievances" they may have, former U.N. leader Kofi Annan said Saturday.

Annan, speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, also said he was confident the power-sharing deal he brokered between President Mwai Kibaki and new Prime Minister Raila Odinga would hold. The deal includes a commitment to disband and demobilize Kenya's militias, many of which were blamed for the weeks of violence following December's disputed elections.

"The government should take effective measures not only to disband to them but eventually prosecute," Annan told the AP. "If one militia or two are allowed to stand, others will follow."

On Thursday, Odinga had called for talks with the notorious Mungiki gang, which held a four-day protest this week against alleged extrajudicial killings by police.

Fourteen people were killed during the protest. Public transportation in the eastern part of Nairobi and several other towns came to a halt as the gang threatened to behead minibus taxi operators who defied the protest call and went to work.

Meanwhile, the army has been hunting for members of a militia called the Sabaot Land Defense Force, which says it is fighting for land redistribution in the western Mt. Elgon region. The group has been linked to a string of kidnappings, murders and mutilations.

"If they have genuine grievances, one should look into them and see what one can do to address the grievance," said Annan, who returned to Kenya on Thursday to witness the swearing-in of Odinga and other coalition Cabinet members.

Annan helped broker the February agreement between Odinga and Kibaki to share power, ending weeks of violence that left more than 1,000 people dead and 300,000 displaced.

The two sides spent weeks after the initial agreement wrangling over Cabinet positions.

But Annan said he was confident the power-sharing deal would hold.

"For one it will be his legacy," said Annan, referring to Kibaki who is serving his second and final term as president. "For the other, it will determine his future."

"I think they have sufficient incentive and a sense of patriotism to press ahead with reconciliation, with the necessary reforms in order to give Kenya the institutions it needs to build on for the future," Annan said.

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Kenya police tear-gas banned sect - BBC

Police in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have fired tear gas at women belonging to the outlawed Mungiki sect.

They had been trying to deliver a petition to new Prime Minister Raila Odinga about their grievances.

The Mungiki called off a week of deadly protests on Thursday after Mr Odinga appealed for dialogue as he was sworn in to head a coalition cabinet.

"Let us stop killing one another," he said, promising to take steps to unite Kenyans after the post-poll crisis.

We have been to hell and back. We must preserve the sanctity of our
nation and remain united

Prime Minister Raila Odinga

The Mungiki, mainly drawn from President Mwai Kibaki's Kikuyu ethnic group, run transport rackets in the capital and are likened to Kenya's version of the mafia.

Ethnic tensions were behind much of the chaos that erupted after December's disputed presidential poll.

Some 1,500 people died and 600,000 fled their homes in the violence.

Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki signed a deal in February which prescribed an equal share of power.

"We have been to hell and back. We must preserve the sanctity of our nation and remain united but our unity cannot be based on words and goodwill alone," Mr Odinga said on Thursday.

The women say the petition was being delivered to his party's headquarters in response to Mr Odinga's speech.

Earlier, Mungiki spokesman Njuguna Gitau Njuguna said the group wanted to give Mr Odinga time to address its grievances, which include the release of its jailed leader Maina Njgenga.

The violence this week, which has killed 14 people, was sparked by the death of the Mr Njgenga's wife, who was found beheaded last weekend.

The BBC's Noel Mwakugu in Nairobi says dozens of policemen are patrolling the streets of Nairobi in anticipation of chaos ahead of her burial.

On Thursday night, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe warned that they would apprehend anybody who attempted to hijack the funeral to commit a breach of peace.

"We have information that people wanted by police for serious crimes have planned to assemble during the burial to further illegal activities anyone who attempts this will be arrested," Mr Kiraithe said.

The Mungiki is angered by the police action and want a special unit set to counter their activities to be disbanded.

Last year, more than 100 suspected sect members were killed in a police crackdown after a series of grisly beheadings blamed on Mungiki.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/04/18 11:24:20 GMT© BBC MMVIII

Daily Nation
Kenya: Mungiki Leaders Still Want to Meet Raila, Washington - 3 hours ago
Leaders of the outlawed Mungiki sect are still pushing for a meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The sect wants to give Raila 'dossier' on the alleged ...

Kenya: Mungiki Leaders Still Want to Meet Raila
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
20 April 2008Posted to the web 21 April 2008
Cyrus Ombati


Leaders of the outlawed Mungiki sect are still pushing for a meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The sect wants to give Raila 'dossier' on the alleged involvement of some top Government officials in its activities.

The sect claims to have 'damning' information on some Cabinet ministers in ODM and PNU.

The sect accuses some Government officials of betraying it by "refusing to intervene as police kill us indiscriminately".

The sect leaders say they will also petition Raila to call for an end to the crackdown on their followers.

"We shall ask him to ensure action is taken on the extrajudicial killings of our members," said one of their leaders.

Some Mungiki followers interviewed by The Sunday Standard claim they were 'promised many things' before and after the last General Election 'but the pledges have not been fulfilled'.

The source added: "We shall tell Raila all we know about the people behind the violence. We believe as the Prime Minister, he will take action."

They also want a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Committee established soon so they can air their grievances in public.

Police have blocked the sect's attempts to see the Prime-Minister.

On Thursday, police blocked a march by Mungiki women followers to Pentagon House in Nairobi, to see Raila.

Some of the women, carrying children, claimed their husbands had been missing since police raided some city slums last year.

Meanwhile, a post-mortem report shows Virginia Nyakio, wife of jailed Mungiki chairman Maina Njenga, and her driver, George Njoroge, were tortured before they were killed.

But detectives investigating the case say they are yet to receive any crucial facts on the deaths.

The bodies of Nyakio and Njoroge were found dumped in a forest in Gatundu a day after they were abducted in Nairobi. The sect blamed the killings on police. But police have refuted the claim.

Some Mungiki leaders have vowed to delay Nyakio's burial until Njenga is released from prison to attend his wife's funeral.

Njenga is serving a five-year jail term at Naivasha Maximum Prison for possessing an illegal firearm.

Other officials say Njenga has told them to postpone the burial indefinitely to enable him appeal for his release.

Police presence was reinforced at Njenga's farm in Kitengela, in anticipation that the burial would take place on Saturday.

Relevant Links
East Africa Conflict, Peace and Security Kenya Legal and Judicial Affairs

Police have been guarding the farm since 2005, when they raided the farm after the sect members allegedly conducted an oathing ceremony there.

Expecting Nyakio's burial to take place, Police Commissioner, Maj-Gen Hussein Ali, had asked Njenga's family to limit the number of mourners to help maintain law and order.

Ali said they had information that some 'wanted' people had planned to assemble during the burial to disturb the peace.

Mungiki merely a symptom of a deadly Kenyan disease Daily Nation

Mungiki women petition Raila Daily Nation

Kenya police teargas Mungiki women

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