Kibaki, Raila clash on amnesty

Kenya’s President and Prime Minister clashed in public yesterday over whether to prosecute perpetrators of ethnic clashes that left 1,500 dead and 350,000 homeless.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

Youths armed with crude weapons during political and ethnic clashes in Kenya. Picture by AFP.

During a speech marking the 45th anniversary of self government, President Mwai Kibaki said that individuals arrested for engaging or facilitating the clashes will have to face justice. “Those found guilty of rape, arson and murder will go to jail,” said President Kibaki, “only a mad person can allow such people to go free.”

On his part, Prime Minister Raila Odinga, said that the formation of a coalition government indicates that Kenyans should accommodate and forgive each other. “Let us forget what happened during the violence. The government will find a solution for the young men charged with crimes during the clashes,” says the Prime Minister. Last week, Prime Minister Odinga said the youth should be released. “How can you arrest someone for fighting for what they believe is right?” the Prime Minister had asked during a luncheon with the Law Society of Kenya.

The Kenya Police say they have about 5,000 individual cases related to the violence that rocked Kenya early this year. A disputed general election in December 2007 unleashed inter-ethnic rivalries and resentments that were fueled by high unemployment and endemic corruption within Kenya’s ruling class.

At the national level, the violence pitted ethnic groups supporting President Mwai Kibaki with those supporting Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Both of them were presidential contenders in the December polls.

President Kibaki of the PNU party was seeking a second term in office. He got most votes from his Kikuyu ethnic group and from the Meru, Embu, Kamba, Kisii and Bukusu.

Raila Odinga of the ODM party, got votes from his Luo tribe, the Kalenjin, Luhya and coastal groups. The Kalenjin and coastal communities resent the Kikuyu for dominating commercial activities in Kenya. The Kikuyu constitute close to 22% of Kenya’s population, making them the single largest ethnic group.

Prior to elections, ethnically provocative campaigns had raised tension in the country. The ODM said that Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe had an unfair advantage over access to government jobs and other resources. Tension boiled over during the elections with ODM youths mounting roadblocks to flush out Kikuyu from vehicles within Western Kenya. In the three months after the December 27 elections, least 1,000 Kikuyu, Kisii and Kamba settlers were killed in ODM strongholds in the western part of the country. Hundreds of thousands of others were evicted from their homes and forced into squalid camps. ODM supporters confiscated farms and buildings, renaming them in several cases.

The Kikuyu also launched their own reprisal killings within the Kikuyu ethnic strongholds around Mt Kenya, Naivasha and Nakuru. At least 100 Luo, Kalenjin and Luhya were killed, leading to fears of a Rwanda-like genocide in Kenya.

International peace efforts led by Koffi Annan resulted in a coalition government in April, with Kibaki remaining as president and Raila getting the premiership. Raila’s supporters view those arrested over the violence as heroes of democracy. “If it wasn’t for our youths, we would not be having this coalition government,” says William Ruto, an ODM minister, “we should be grateful to them for fighting against a rigged election.”

Kibaki’s supporters say the violence was ethnic cleansing in disguise and that its perpetrators should be charged with murder, arson, rape and assault. “If we release the youth charged with violence, I may as well open up Kenya’s jails and release every one who’s committed a crime,” says Justice Minister, Martha Karua.


7 Responses

  1. Very good article. It is so sad that there was so much violence post-election. For months now I have been trying to understand it all and to get a real understanding of Odinga. Would you consider doing a detailed article on him?

  2. I am re-reading this article. It really is very good. It is helping me better understand things.

  3. From what I am reading is that the ODM ( Odinga’s supporters) created trouble and the other group (Kikuyu) launched their own reprisal killings (as you wrote). I guess the other side says differently?
    Sounds terrible. I saw video on awhile back.

    Now this ODM who supported Odinga ( Obama’s Cousin) wants his supporters free. hmmmmmm?

    Do you have any information about Obama’s trip to Kenya you would like to share with your readers. Did Obama ever give speechs in support of Odinga? I saw pictures of them together.

  4. […] Odinga wants his supporters to go free (he won’t let it go  and as recent as June 1st he was asking again for amensty).  I also have no clue as to which group started the brutal violence which ended in an estimated […]

  5. Thanks for the compliments on the article. The Nairobi Chronicle strives to present factual, unbiased and uncensored information so that readers can decide for themselves who is right or wrong. Writing a story about Raila is a good idea and we’re trying to compile some research material in order to present something accurate.

  6. Yes please a lot of people are interested about him and what happened in Kenya post-election. Also, people are interested in the Obama connection. I enjoy reading your site.

  7. As we work on a detailed article on Raila Odinga, we invite you to peruse some past articles so as to get information on the post-elections violence in Kenya. We usually include such material so that our readers can gain a proper perspective on current affairs.

    The articles are arranged chronologically, with the first one here appearing in April and the one at the bottom published just this week.

    Refugees have to wait for new Cabinet – Raila

    100 year old railway vandalized in political wrangling

    Conflict in giant cabinet over refugees

    Jaramogi, Raila and the parallel centres of power

    Lands Minister opposes return of refugees

    Operation “Go Home” begins amidst apprehension

    Raila Odinga: the new ally of the West

    Giant Cabinet in first meeting

    Amnesty debate splits giant cabinet

    Ugly tribalism forging strange alliances

    Kibaki, Raila clash on amnesty

    Raila Odinga for Kikuyu Elder?

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