Kenyan police maintain strong presence in the aftermath of nearly a month of anti-government protests.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Story by NATION Reporter
Publication Date: 1/29/2008
Riots have erupted in several Nairobi residential neighborhoods following the murder of the Orange Democratic Movement’s Embakasi MP Mugabe Were.
Police and witnesses said that the MP arrived at his Woodley Estate home shortly after midnight and was shot as he waited for his gate to be opened.
A team of ODM legislators led by Raila Odinga are currently meeting at the house and are expected to issue a statement later.
President Kibaki has sent his condolences and appealed for the public not to rush to any conclusions on the MP’s killing until police investigations are completed.
Riots have been reported in Nairobi’s Ngong Road, Kawangware and tension in Kibera and Ayany areas. The three areas are close to the MP’s Woodley Estate house.
Chaos were also reported in Dandora and Kayole in the late legislator’s Embakasi constituency.
Tension heightened after paramilitary police visited the late MP’s home and lobbed teargas at a crowd of mourners before chasing them into the house.
The Kilimani police boss Herbert Khaemba later apologized for the police action: “I apologise for what has happened. I did not instruct the officers to throw teargas into the compound or even enter the compound.”
A guard who was manning Mr Were’s gate said he heard the MP hoot followed shortly by gun shots.
“I climbed over the gate and saw two people holding guns. I screamed for help and it was then that they disappeared,” the guard told journalists. He then looked over and saw the MP lying beside his car.
He said assisted Mr Were’s family to rush the wounded MP to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Doctors said that the bullets had caught the victim in the eye and chest.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, who addressed the Press following the shooting, said that they would treat it as murder. He said they had not ruled out political motives.
Mr Kiraithe appealed for any member of the public who might have information that would assist detectives solve the murder to step forward and offer it.
The police spokesman said they would allow any interested parties to either join the police or to conduct parallel investigations in the interest of arresting the culprits.
US senators table Bill on Kenyan crisis
Story by SAMWEL KUMBA
Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/29/2008
A Bill has been tabled in the US Senate to discuss the political standoff in Kenya, with a view of giving the States’ position on the crisis.
Initially introduced by Senator Russell Dana ‘Russ’ Feingold from Wisconsin for himself and his colleague John E. Sununu of New Hampshire, the senators want President George W. Bush to declare his stand on the crisis in Kenya.
The senators also say President Bush should support efforts facilitating dialogue.
In addition, the Bill proposes personal sanctions, travel bans and an asset freeze on PNU and ODM leaders and other actors who refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue to end the current crisis.
“The US should review its aid to Kenya for the purpose of restricting all non-essential assistance to Kenya unless all parties are able to establish a peaceful political resolution,” the Bill says.
This Bill is in the first step of the legislative process. In America, Bills first go to committees that deliberate, investigate, and revise them before they go to general debate.
Most Bills never make it out of the committee stage. And sometimes the text of one Bill is incorporated into another.
On January 25, this particular Bill was sent to the foreign relations committee.
Co-sponsors of the Bill include probable presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, whose ancestry is traced to Kenya.
The others are: senators Joseph Biden, Barbara Boxer, Sherrod Brown, Samuel Brownback, Benjamin Cardin, Norm Coleman, Christopher Dodd, Richard Durbin, Charles Hagel, Thomas Harkin, Edward Kennedy, John Kerry, Robert Menéndez and Olympia Snowe.
“There should be a thorough and credible independent audit of election results with the possibility, depending on what is discovered, of a re-count or re-tallying of presidential votes or a re-run of presidential election within a specified time period,” the senators stated.
They also urged an end to restrictions on the media and rights of peaceful assembly.
Learning in Nyanza on its knees
Story by WALTER MENYA, MAUREEN ONGWAE and COSMAS BUTUNYI
Kenya Daily Nation
Nyanza Province was once famed for its intellectual contribution. This is no longer the case especially now with the raging election-related violence.
The majority of schools in about 10 districts are yet to open for first term. School in most other parts of the country opened three weeks ago.
Last week, the Government ordered that all schools in the affected to open by yesterday.
Provincial commissioner Paul Olando promised to deploy adequate security to the schools.
However, many of the schools, especially in Kisumu Town, were still shut yesterday.
Fresh riots in the morning forced parents, who had earlier taken their children to school, to go back and collect them.
In some schools, children were asked to return home by the schools’ administration as violence erupted in different parts of the town.
This is the third week of the first term in the schools’ calendar.
The provincial director of education, Mr Geoffrey Cherongis, said that only schools in the larger Kisii District, Maseno High School and teacher training colleges had opened.
He warned that the political situation in the country could water down the marked improvement in last year’ Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examination results.
Kisumu East District Commissioner Jamleck Baruga confirmed that schools had opened but the teachers fled after the early morning riots.
Speaking by telephone, Mr Baruga said that no security personnel had been deployed to the schools, but it was impossible to keep children in school under the prevailing circumstances.
And the venue of the Form One selection last week turned out to be a session of the headteachers to question the inability of the Government to ensure security so that learning could continue.
The school heads, with the support of the Kenya National Union of Teachers, Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers officials rejected a directive from the Ministry of Education for them to recall students.
The directive to the heads from the ministry, through the provincial director of education Mr Cherongis, was uncompromising: “Reopen schools as soon as possible or face disciplinary action.”
At the moment, more than 500 schools in 10 districts in the province are still shut while learning is slowly resuming in the southern Nyanza districts of Kuria and Gusiiland.
But the union officials have stood their ground, defending their members who are yet to open and at the same time asking them to report to their work stations only when their security is guaranteed.
Said Mr Kepha Ogwi, the Kuppet executive secretary, Nyanza branch: “The lives of our members and their students cannot be compromised under whatever circumstances.”
The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association national vice-chairman, Mr John Awiti, supported these sentiments saying that the education sector was hard hit by the spill-over effects from the political tensions in the country.
“The state of affairs in the country makes silence golden but as teachers we cannot keep quiet. We must stand up to address the problem without putting the lives of our members in jeopardy,” he said.
Lost their lives
The insecurity, occasioned by disputed election results, has left in its wake many teachers and students displaced while others have lost their lives.
Nyanza province has borne the brunt of the violence in which more than 70 people have been killed and about 6,000 from communities originating outside the province displaced in addition to the destruction of Sh3 billion property.
Knut executive secretary Kisumu branch Eliakim Sijenje said learning in Kisumu Town West and East districts was threatened with the displacement of 70 teachers and the municipality recording a figure of 130 teachers.
This is in addition to the yet-to-be established number of students killed or otherwise displaced in the violent protests.
And as the Form One selection kicked off in Maseno School, about 30 kilometres from its traditional venue at Kisumu Polytechnic, the extent of insecurity and fear among teachers was evident.
For the first time, the exercise was conducted at two different venues in the province in what Mr Cherongis termed “a matter of convenience” to save on time. While 10 districts met at Maseno School, six others carried out the exercise at Kisii High School a day later.
Put a wedge
This was also not taken kindly by the school heads. The Kuppet official was more categorical: “The provincial education office should not attempt to solve the problem by suppressing it. We have always done the exercise jointly so it is only wise that you stop putting a wedge between teachers in Nyanza.”
Further, as Mr Awiti put it, teachers are constantly receiving death threats from vigilantes and politicians against opening the schools. The experience of some of their colleagues has taught them that their lives come before the job, the heads said.
Whereas the provincial administration has given an assurance to the teachers about their security and that of their students while in schools, the teachers are well too aware of the situation to accept the offer.
The Government, through Mr Baruga, announced that all schools in the district should open on January 28 (yesterday) saying that his office was committed to ensuring security in the district.
But Mr Sijenje said that teachers would still not attend to their duties due to the many threats they had received from the residents.
Risked being killed
Mr Sijenje said the teachers risked being killed and the schools set on fire.
“Teachers have not been able to attend schools due to fear of insecurity. The few brave ones have either been chased out of the schools or threatened with arson,” said Mr Sijenje.
Mr Cherongis has in the meantime directed the district education officers and their municipal counterparts to identify all displaced teachers and students to “establish modalities for helping them.”
The problem has been compounded further by the parents’ unwillingness to let their children go to school for fear of attacks on the way.
Three children have so far lost their lives in Kisumu as a result of the stray bullets fired at protesters.
Instead, parents want an assurance from the political leaders that the situation is good for learning to begin, a sentiment shared by Mr Cherongis.
Said Mr Cherongis: “The children and teachers are ready to go back to class but politicians must come down to the villages and talk to them.”
The DC, however, says that he has already ordered the chiefs to address barazas and urge parents to attend so that they could be sensitised on the importance of allowing their children to go to school.
Arrange for counselling
According to Mr Cherongis, the teachers need to arrange for counselling of the students with the assistance of religious leaders and civil society groups when schools eventually open.
This, he says, should be done to help the students cope with the trauma that some of them have experienced.
And as the parallel selection comes to a close, sources have expressed fears that schools in the six districts may be reluctant to admit students from the rest of the province and vice versa.
As it stands now, teachers still shudder at the mention of the term opening and they have decided, with one voice to defy the Ministry of Education directive to go back to class for now.
It is only wise, they say, that the feuding politicians talk to their people to have mercy on education institutions.
Kibaki must come out and preach peace
Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/29/2008
Only a day after the horrendous killings in Naivasha, fresh cases of deaths were reported in various parts of the country yesterday, signalling no end in sight for the senseless blood-letting that has pushed Kenya to the ranks of failed states.
What is scaring is that we are now witnessing revenge killings; malevolent acts of deep anger and bitterness, which, if unchecked, may turn this country into one huge boiling cauldron.
Electoral dispute that triggered the current turmoil is fast receding to the back burner as ethnic hatred-cum-chivalry take the centre stage, exposing base instincts and driving the country back to the pre-colonial times.
It is inconceivable how people who have all along lived in harmony, shared resources and common utilities, can turn around and start butchering each other senselessly. Matters are worse when we see youths, some hardly aged 20 years, taking machetes, bows and arrows and other instruments of terror to attack people of different ethnic backgrounds.
None of these acts serve the cause of democracy, which any of the combatants would purport to be fighting for. On the contrary, these are primitive and retrogressive acts that balkanise and annihilate a once united country that is Kenya.
Mount a roadblock
But we are shocked, like everybody else, at the inertia and ineptitude by the Government to control the situation. We noted yesterday, and we repeat today, that there is no way a gang of 50 or more people can spring from some corner, mount a roadblock on the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway, stop and search vehicles and kill individuals from perceived rival ethnic backgrounds — and get away scot-free. That illustrates that either the security network has collapsed or, there is complicity in the act.
Neither, can armed gangs run amok and attack an estate, set residences on fire and kill about 20 people without security forces getting wind of it and nipping it in the bud.
When police commissioner Hussein Ali chose to speak yesterday, he treated Kenyans to long tales of the tens of case files being investigated and of the 28 to be prosecuted for murder. The message Kenyans wanted to hear was why the police have been unable to contain the violence. Better still, what it was doing to forestall any potential death.
When Security minister George Saitoti visited Naivasha yesterday, he gave directives about beefing up the security in the area, but did not spell out the broad and long-term measures to contain the situation.
Path of peace
The military may have been brought to deal with the turmoil in Nakuru and Naivasha, but what about other areas? In short, what is the Government’s plan in putting the country on the path of peace?
Political leaders across the divide have been issuing statements urging their followers to eschew violence, but, except for a few cases, they have not made practical steps to visit their communities and preach the same message.
Most surprising, President Kibaki, at whom the buck stops, and his rival Raila Odinga, other than that photo-ops session last week, have not taken the message of peace to the doorstep of their followers.
We want to exhort President Kibaki to come out of State House and tackle the unfolding crisis. He cannot keep quiet when the country is burning. We also demand the same of Mr Odinga.
It is unfortunate, in fact depressing, that violence is worsening when mediation team, under former UN boss Kofi Annan, is at work. Nothing poisons the environment for mediation as violence does.
For the citizens, the living words of American rock music icon Elvis Presley are apt: “Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them.”
Entire lot of our leaders should just call it quits
Story by MACHARIA GAITHO
Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/28/2008
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Our leaders, the whole lot and caboodle of them, starting with Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga and all their key lieutenants — Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi, John Michuki, William Ruto, Martha Karua, Henry Kosgey, George Saitoti, Najib Balala, Uhuru Kenyatta, down to all MPs, and probably all past MPs — should accept that they are the cause of Kenya’s descent into anarchy and chaos.
The Japanese have an honourable way for those who fail; accepting responsibility with the ultimate demonstration of remorse and contrition.
Well, I concede it would be asking too much to expect our so-called leaders to stage a collective Hari Kari.
But if they all can at least accept responsibility for the death and destruction visited on this country, perhaps they would be moved to the honourable thing and at least relinquish all leadership positions in order to create room for others, who might try and clear up their mess.
I WATCHED LAST THURSDAY AS MR Kibaki and Mr Odinga posed for the cameras and cheated Kenyans that they were now ready to jointly work for peace. Yet their speeches betrayed the fact that they were reading from different scripts.
The President was more intent on emphasising that he was duly elected. That, I thought, was the bone of contention. And for him, the subject of the discussion is only peace, which will presumably come about when his opponents acknowledge that he won the presidential elections and stop their protests.
Meanwhile, his government will continue to employ the heavy hand of State to quell disturbances.
The stuck record went into discordant mode when Mr Odinga chimed in with his constant mantra about justice first before peace. The translation is that there will be no let up until he gets what he thinks belongs to him that Mr Kibaki has usurped, the presidency.
Hardly had the two chief protagonists finished smiling for the camera before it became clear that the blood-letting was not about to cease.
That the violence did not let up after President Kibaki and Mr Odinga jointly called for peace and publicly committed themselves to the search for a solution to the post-election crisis, is very telling.
It can only mean two things. One is that they were both not sincere, and were just mouthing peace platitudes for mediator Kofi Annan and the rolling cameras, while signalling to their respective supporters that they meant the opposite.
The other is that both are no longer in control of the demons they have unleashed, and their respective flunkies are busy plotting and executing bloodshed in spite of what the leaders may desire.
Are Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga sleeping soundly, at State House and a palatial mansion in the Karen suburbs respectively, as the horrific death toll mounts?
Are their families not continuing with life as usual in the lap of luxury and guaranteed security, while tens of thousands of ordinary Kenyans are left at the mercy of bloodthirsty mobs?
Our leaders have failed us terribly and the only way they can help at this stage would be by dramatic gestures beyond mere handshakes and fake smiles.
If they really cared. If they really want to play a part in pulling this country from the precipice they have led it into, they should resign.
Mr Kibaki should accept that he has failed terribly and relinquish the presidency and all other posts. Mr Odinga should accept that he must take an equal share of the blame for the blood we are witnessing and also take a permanent break from public life.
As the two ride off with shame into retirement, they should be followed by all the other MPs and ex-MPs, who collectively make up the Kenyan leadership, and who collectively must eschew any future pretence to leadership.
So what happens with the vacuum that will be created? We are doing very well in efforts to destroy our country, thank you, under the present political elite.
Part of the problem is that despite the unprecedented pressure from home and abroad, the leaders simply do not see it. In the recent days, I have heard people very high up in the Kibaki government insist that they will hold on to government by hook or by crook.
WHEN NOT DENYING THAT THEY rigged the elections, the are busy trying to justify the rigging. Their favourite argument is that the opposition had planned violence whatever the outcome, so it was better to rig and at least have the instruments of State to counter any attacks.
Well, the instruments of State are pretty impotent as we speak.
The warmongers in the Government have their counterparts on the other side. I feel sick when I hear very senior opposition leaders justify the carnage that their supporters visited on presumed government sympathisers. Out of one side of the mouth, they say peace and out of the other they encourage the attacks as the only weapon that can help them capture power.
I wish the whole lot of them would be locked together in a giant cage and armed with their crude weapons of choice, to settle scores with each other, while the rest of us get on with our lives.