By Myriam Clerge
Impunity Watch Reporter, Eastern and Southern Africa
NAIROBI, Kenya – It took a few minutes on Sunday, after Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the victor of an intense and controversial election, for the country to fly into a rage. More than 100 people have been killed across Kenya in protest blamed on the disputed presidential election. Mwai Kibaki was officially re-elected president while Raila Odinga, the opposition, rejected the results saying he was robbed of victory by electoral fraud.
It was earlier predicted that the vote would be close, and the final results had Kibaki winning by a splinter, 46 percent to 44 percent. According to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), Kibaki won 4,584,721 votes, beating Odinga by more than 230,000 votes. But that gap may have included thousands of invalid ballots. Before the final count, Kibaki trailed in all opinion polls.
Kibaki, in a statement, urged healing, reconciliation and unity going into the New Year in an effort to quell one of the most volatile moments in Kenya since the 1963 independence. However, Kibaki cautioned that his government would “deal decisively with those who breach the peace by intensifying security across the country.”
As riots spread across Kenya, the government took the first steps toward martial law on Sunday night and banned all live media broadcasts. Police, who have imposed a 6am to 6pm curfew, told the Associated Press that they had orders to shoot to kill. The orders have divided the police force, with many officers sympathizing with protesters.
Most of the violence has been between Kenya’s two largest tribes, Luo supporters of Odinga clashed with members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe. According to the local television stations, ten people were killed in the ethnically-mixed town of Kisii. The bloodiest attacks took place in Kisumu, the country’s third-largest city and a concentrated area of the opposition. According to witnessed, 25 bodies lay at the mortuary. In Nairobi, police fired live rounds and tear-gas to break up Odinga’s supporters in the Kibera slum, where a blackout forced the area into darkness while ethnic gangs set homes and businesses on fire. The death toll from clashes between protesters and police, or ethnic violence has risen today to more than 130.
Meanwhile, the opposition candidate, Odinga, has dismissed the presidential vote as rigged. After the police warned the opposition from holding a rally in Uhuru Park, Odinga has called on a million protesters to gather in the park on Thursday.
Many people have taken refuge in police stations as the violence spreads. Took make matters worst, food, water and fuel are in short supply in most of the country.
Bewildered tourists are left stranded in the chaos as flights have been delayed and airports turned into makeshift shelters.
The US, which works closely together with the Kibaki government on anti-terrorism issues, initially congratulated the president on his re-election but today withdrew its commendation.
For more information please see:
BBC News – Odinga rejects Kenya poll result – 31 December 2007
BBC News – Scores dead in Kenya poll clashes – 31 December 2007
Reuters: Africa- Kenya Election Violence Kills More Than 100 – 31 December 2007
Yahoo News (AP) – Kenya Rioting Death Toll at 125 – 31 December 2007
Washington Post – Kenyan Election protest Kill More Than 100 – 31 December 2007