Sunday, January 20, 2008

What's Happening in Kenya, Part III

Here is a brief, though very much incomplete chronology of events in Kenya.

Odinga is switching to a "new phase" of protest which will include boycotting companies perceived to be allied with Kibaki.

The first words I've seen reported of Odinga urging peace were reported in the Washington Post:

"No need to kill somebody because of his tribe, even if he did not vote for me," Odinga told several hundred supporters as he came out of a church service in Nairobi's Kibera slum, its roads blackened with the remains of days of flaming barricades.

Odinga said a memorial service would be held at a sports field in central Nairobi on Wednesday for those who had died and repeated a call for more demonstrations from Thursday, despite police orders to prevent rallies.

"You can beat our body, but you cannot break our spirit of justice," he told cheering supporters, some holding up banners reading "Raila our solution" or "Kibaki hand over to Raila."

This East African editorial gives a perspective on what is going on behind the headlines:
Kenya is being held captive by two groups of people. Those whose primary objective was to rig the presidential elections — call them the ethnic riggers — and those who inflame ethnic hatred and cause death, destruction and displacement — call them the ethnic warriors.

The concept of being “Kenyan” is alien to them, because their sense of Kenya is linked to geographical boundaries and nothing more. So, ruling Kenya is a ticket for tribal domination. Indeed, for them a Kenya without the other “tribes” would be a much improved Kenya...

If we do not reject the politics of the riggers and the warriors, if we do not embrace democracy — which, with all its faults, is surely the system of governance with the least faults — and if we do not deal with the long-standing and underlying ethnic tensions that divide Kenya, Kenyans will pay a high price....

Kenyans must reject this and recapture the common ground. But what should the common ground be?

(i) That the presidential election results were deeply flawed;

(ii) That too many Kenyans feel disenfranchised as a consequence;

(iii) That Kenya is afflicted by deepseated ethnic tensions linked principally to poverty and a sense of marginalisation, which must be dealt with;

(iv) That the post-election feelings of disenfranchisement can only worsen the ethnic tensions;

(v) That the post-election violence is abhorrent and must be stopped;

(vi) That the ethnic warriors and the ethnic riggers must be brought to justice;

(vii) That every step must be taken to return those displaced to their homes, to help them rebuild their lives and compensate them for their loss of property;

(viii) That a government be constituted that is broad based and inclusive;

(ix) That steps be taken to restore legitimacy to the position of the president in the eyes of the majority of Kenyans, whether through new elections after an agreed period of time or through a new and different constitutional dispensation. In any event, if a new election is to be called, President Kibaki, if he so wishes, should be allowed to run again and the constitution be amended on a one-off basis to permit this.
Like it or not, though 650 killed and 2,500 displaced is still a monstrous thing, the strong police presence seems to be preventing the genocide that occurred in Rwanda. Again though, the government must figure out a way to fairly identify and protect property right and establish a rule of law. This, however, seems to be a very difficult proposition due to the frayed concept of "Kenyan" and the poor sense of justice prevalent in African nations generally.

According to the AP,
Land always has been a tool of Kenyan politicians, who distribute it as favors to their own and allied tribes, and use it as a weapon, settling their supporters in hostile areas in order to win votes at election time.

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