Raila, Kibaki defy Kalenjin politicians

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga began today a series of tours in the Rift Valley aimed at reconciling warring communities after violence in January left thousands dead.

Kibaki and Raila made the trip in with Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka inspite of protests by Kalenjin politicians that their people were not ready to welcome back the hundreds of thousands evicted from the area.

During the January violence, Kalenjin evicted Kikuyu from their farms and businesses saying that they were reclaiming their ancestral lands. However, it happened that the Kalenjin supported Raila in his presidential bid in last December’s elections while the Kikuyu supported Kibaki. Thus the violence was both ethnic and political. Among the key aspects of the National Accord that created the giant coalition between Kibaki and Raila was the return of persons displaced by the ethno-political violence.

Raila finds himself in an awkward position because as Prime Minister, he is expected to champion the interests of all the country’s ethnic groups. Following violence against the Kikuyu in the Rift Valley, there were reprisal attacks against the Raila’s Luo ethnic group as well as the Kalenjin in the Central Province, Nairobi, Naivasha and Nakuru. Thousands of Luo were forced from their homes and are now camping in football stadia, churches and schools. In Nakuru, the Luo camps are just kilometres away from camps housing Kikuyu evicted from the Rift Valley. Therefore, Raila will have to work hard to ensure his own Luo people return to their homes and businesses as well.

Inhabiting the fertile highlands of the Western Rift Valley, the Kalenjin say their land has been occupied by outsiders. Since 1992, during the Presidency of Daniel arap Moi (himself a Kalenjin) clashes have erupted intermittently as a growing Kalenjin population demands more land for its youth. The ODM politicians opposed to the return of refugees to the Rift Valley do not want to appear as going against communal sentiments.

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One Response

  1. Let us live together as Kenyans and stop being driven apart by politicians who are out to satisfy their selfish appetites and egos

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