616 Kenyans died, not 1,500

Kenya’s Police Commissioner said yesterday that 616 people died in violence early this year and not over 1,000 as widely quoted by the media.

Major-General Mohammed Hussein Ali told the commission of inquiry into post elections violence that killings were caused by political incitement and worsened by a debate over ethnic federalism. According to the country’s police chief, the media should also take responsibility for the violence due to sensational, one-sided reporting.

Maj-Gen Ali defended police actions in quelling violence, saying that his force saved the country from worse chaos. The ODM party of Prime Minister Raila Odinga says the police used a “shoot-to-kill” policy against its supporters, especially in the western city of Kisumu. Maj Gen Ali denied that such orders had ever been issued.

The Commission of Inquiry into post-elections violence was set up as part of the National Accord that created the coalition government between President Mwai Kibaki’s PNU party and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s ODM. The Commission, headed by Justice Phillip Waki, is tasked with finding the causes of the violence and recommending prosecution of perpetrators and financiers. The Commission began receiving submissions yesterday, with Maj-Gen Ali as it’s first witness.

Political and ethnic violence erupted in Kenya following disputed elections in December 2007. Raila Odinga and the ODM party accused President Mwai Kibaki of rigging himself for a second term of office. Looting, riots and ethnic clashes between January and March this year left hundreds dead and at least 500,000 homeless. 12,000 others sought refuge in neighboring Uganda.

International mediation led by former United Nations Secretary General, Koffi Annan, created the current coalition where Kibaki kept the Presidency while Raila got the new position of Prime Minister. In spite of the peace deal, ethnic tension remains high. Many of those evicted from their homes are reluctant to return for fear of future attacks. Meanwhile, the tribes that evicted them say they don’t want them back. In many cases, homes and farms left behind by fleeing refugees have been occupied by those that chased them away, further complicating a return to normalcy.

National divisions in Kenya grow deeper

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5 Responses

  1. ONE DEATH WAS ONE TOO MANY IN MY OPINION.

  2. True enough. But I guess its a relief to know that the actual number of dead is just about half of what originally had been feared.

  3. Thanks for the post

  4. I am happily coming from Germany, but my parents – esp. my grandfather – have australian ancestors. Thus I think to be western European with some Anglo-Saxon impact. Your interesting thoughts about the German people seem to be very negative to me; I’d think, American politicians could learn a lot from the way german politics is handling its crisis until now.

  5. In a word… nice top10! 🙂

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