Kibaki creates 20 provinces; ethnic clashes now feared

UPDATE – 22nd July 2009:

The Standard has reliably learnt that the number of sub-provinces is now 22 after two were added, reportedly to accommodate interests of certain communities in Nyanza and Rift Valley.

Southern Nyanza, which was initially lumped together with Eastern Nyanza, will now have its headquarters in Homa Bay. Eastern Nyanza will be administered from Kisii town and cater for the Gusii and Kuria. Also added to the list is Western Rift, to be governed from Kericho town. It was originally part of Western Rift Valley, which will now be called Eastern Rift with offices in Eldoret.

Read more on this story from the Standard daily >>

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After he was warned against splitting Kenya’s provinces, President Mwai Kibaki has resorted to deceptive tactics to impose 20 new provinces through a bizarre concept of “sub-provinces.”

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

The new provincial units created by President Mwai Kibaki

In an unexpected political maneuver last week, the President made far reaching changes in the Provincial administration. Not only did he replace at least 6 Provincial Commissioners, but he also introduced 20 deputy provincial commissioners to be in charge of the 20 “sub-provinces.” Meanwhile, all 210 constituencies have been declared as districts but the final district tally is 254, meaning that some constituencies have more than one district!

The interesting fact is that the President’s Party of National Unity (PNU) had earlier proposed splitting the country into 20 provinces. The proposal was however rejected by majority of legislators. Even ex-President Daniel arap Moi, who lately supports Kibaki, rejected the proposal arguing that it will worsen ethnic tensions especially in the Rift Valley Province.

There are now fears of a resurgence of ethnic clashes as the new provincial borders appear aligned on ethnic lines. For instance, the larger Nyanza Province was split into Kisumu and Kisii sub-provinces. Western Province has been split into Bungoma and Kakamega sub-provinces to separate the Bukusu community from the rest of the Luhyas.

In the Rift Valley, the Maasai have been given Narok sub-province, the Kikuyu have Nakuru sub-province while the Kalenjin have been allocated Eldoret sub-province. The pastoral communities of the Pokot, Turkana and Samburu will be administered from Lodwar sub-province.

Central Province has been split into three: Thika, Nyandarua and Nyeri sub-provinces.

The Kamba ethnic group now have the Machakos sub-province.  Embu sub-province will administer the Embu, Meru, Tharaka and Nithi ethnic groups. The nomadic communities in the northern sector of Eastern Province now fall under the Marsabit sub-province. Likewise, the Somali dominated North Eastern province has been split into Wajir and Garissa sub-provinces.

At the coast, the Taita have a sub-province at Voi, while the Mijikenda will have Mombasa sub-province. The rest of the Coastal communities, including the Pokomo and the Bajuni have been clustered under the Malindi sub-province.

Districts with a mixed ethnic composition will experience ethnic tension as controversy emerges over which sub-province will administer those districts. For instance, will the Kalenjin prefer Nakuru sub-province or Eldoret sub-province? In Western Province, which Luhya sub-tribes will want themselves under Bungoma sub-province and which ones will prefer the Kakamega sub-province?

Some districts in Nyanza Province have a mixed Luo and Kisii ethnic composition. Will such districts be placed under the Kisumu sub-province or under the Kisii sub-province? Where will the Kuria ethnic group be placed? Will they demand a sub-province of their own?

In Eastern Province, there will be tension over Isiolo District. The Meru will want it placed under their Embu sub-province but the nomadic groups will want it under Marsabit sub-province. The presence of significant Somali and Samburu populations in Isiolo will complicate the equation.

North Eastern province is ethnically homogeneous but clan affiliation among the Somali is very strong. Which Somali clans will prefer the Wajir sub-province as opposed to the Garissa sub-province?

It appears that President Kibaki does not understand the danger of what he has just done. Everybody – including the international community – warned him against splitting provinces but he has thrown caution to the wind and implemented his diabolical plan. How can a leader get things so wrong?

Should clashes arise from the creation of sub-provinces, Kibaki must bear full responsibility for deaths, injuries and the destruction of property. The beneficiaries of this sinister political strategy should likewise share the blame.

Kisumu woman raped, husband killed and home burnt

The witness is a 49 year old farmer and mother of 12 children of whom seven remain alive. She lives in Kisumu. This study demonstrates the desperate personal situation that some victims have found themselves in as a result of the Post Election Violence.

“I have lived in Kisumu throughout my married life. My neighbours were Luos and Kisiis, the majority of them being the Luos. Before the violence, we used to live well with our Kisii neighbours. We were good friends.

On 15 January, 2008, I went to the family shamba, but this time I was alone. I went there to get vegetables for the family. It was about 11 am in the morning. As soon as I started plucking the vegetables, on turning I saw 5 men coming towards me. They were young men, dressed in trousers and vests. The conspicuous thing about them is that they had ‘rastas’ – dreadlocks.’

They said to me ‘Ooh wewe ndio unasikia mzuri, unachuna mboga na sisi tunasikia mbaya? Sasa tumepata (oh you are the person feeling good … you are still plucking vegetables when we are feeling bad … now we have found you.) I was not able to tell their tribes because they were all speaking in Kiswahili and they all had dreadlocks.

One of the men held me on the waist, lifted me and threw me on the ground. Another man tore my panties and they started raping. One held my mouth so that I do not scream. I was trying to keep my legs together but one man held one of my legs while another held my other leg and kept my legs apart. There were no houses nearby. They raped me in turns. All the men raped me. Once they were done with me, they headed to a bush on the way to Nyalenda. The bushes are near River Nyamasaria.

I was not even able to pluck the vegetables that I had gone to cut. I just picked my basket and headed home. I was walking slowly. I was under a lot of pain; my hips were paining very much. I got to my house at around 4 pm. I told my husband, who was at home by then, of what had happened to me. I did not go to the hospital then because the roads were impassable. I still haven’t gone to the hospital to seek medical advice. I fear that since I have taken long before going to the hospital, the people at the hospital may never understand my predicament. I also did not report this to the police.

I still live in my house which was burnt before the rape, and I fear that should it be very windy, the wind is going to blow off the roof. I have not been able to repair my house and when it rains, water gets into my house. My husband passed away on 23 February 2008 at his place of work where he had been employed as a watchman. He was employed at the Wandiege Primary School.

On the night of 23 February, 2008, my husband was attacked by unknown people, killed and placed in a classroom. His body was picked by the police officers from Kondele Police station on 24 February 2008. They still have not done any investigation to ascertain who killed my husband.

I have been affected by post election violence. My life has changed since I was raped, my house was burnt and the death of my husband. I do not have a livelihood. My husband is dead and there is no income. I do not even know who will rebuild my house. I rely on people to help me. The clothes that my children wear, those that I wear, beddings have all come from people. Food has been a problem. I have to sell some vegetables to get some flour.”

State authority collapsed during poll chaos

A report by Kenya’s official human rights body highlights the extent to which state authority collapsed as ethnic clashes raged following disputed elections last December.

A group of armed policemen were seen looting a shopping centre under the command of a police inspector.

Chiefs on government payroll led gangs of youth in an orgy of killing. Well-known politicians attended meetings to lay strategies for death and destruction. Business people availed free use of matatus, trucks, land and machinery for training and logistical operations. Funds drives were held to import weapons from Somalia and Ethiopia.

While police in the towns of Kisumu and Nairobi used desperate tactics to assert government authority, commanders in the rural areas abandoned their stations and took sides with their ethnic groups. A senior police officer in one of the worst hit areas told victims of clashes to take care of themselves.

The revelations are contained in a report released last month by the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights. Due to the ongoing Waki Commission of Inquiry into Post Election Violence, the press has been barred from mentioning the names of those linked to ethnic clashes. The Nairobi Chronicle has obtained a copy of the explosive report, which is freely circulating on the Internet. However, we are unable to publish names for fear of legal and other consequences.

Since release of the report, several politicians implicated in the violence have cited their innocence. Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Tourism Minister Najib Balala, Higher Education Minister Sally Kosgei and Heritage Minister William ole Ntimama have denied organizing and funding the clashes.

In an interesting twist of events, three of the top politicians named in the report have since died. One was murdered by a policeman while the other two died in an accident. Its not clear whether the unnatural circumstances of their deaths have anything to do with the political and ethnic clashes.

By March this year, close to 1,000 people were dead and half a million rendered homeless. International mediation efforts resulted in a coalition government that has presided over a tense peace. Many of the displaced are still in camps due to continued threats. A few thousand have settled in Uganda.

The KNCHR report unveils a financial angle to the violence. Youth were paid between Shs400 to Shs500 (US$5.8 – $7.3) a day for their “services.” The monetary inducement is obviously appealing due to widespread poverty and high rates of unemployment in Kenya. There was a monetary scale of payment depending on the ethnicity of the victim: even in death, certain tribes attracted greater wrath than others.

Eyewitness accounts reveal that there existed a logistical and financial chain between politicians in Nairobi and youth on the ground. Mobile phones were used to issue orders and to confirm implementation.

Entire ethnic groups rose up against their perceived rivals and politicians played a key role in mobilization. Its possible that majority of ordinary people were not initially inclined to violence. However, there were threats of death for those refusing to participate. Indeed, many who resisted the call to arms had their property destroyed. This happened in all sides to the conflict.

Serving and retired security officers trained militia groups at the behest of politicians. In several instances, the use of firearms by civilian combatants was recorded. Its not clear how these militias obtained guns. Bridges were destroyed using explosive material. The KNCHR report has confirmed claims that top politicians plotted on importing heavy weapons from Ethiopia and Somalia.

There has been a lot of debate over whether the post election violence was planned. It may well be true that the early violence was a spontaneous reaction to a botched election. However, once the violence began, it assumed a life of its own and became a monster.

People felt that the Kenyan government had stopped existing. The security structure, the civil service, all of it collapsed. There was no government to protect the people.

Trade, transport and agriculture stopped functioning. Vast swathes of land were cut-off from the outside world. Chaos reigned as food and fuel supplies ran out. Nobody knew what was happening in the next district, let alone the rest of the country. Every man had to do whatever was necessary to defend families and property. That explains why ordinary citizens went to extraordinary lengths to donate their time, energy, money and other resources.

Amidst all these, the politicians were comfortably placed in Nairobi, issuing orders from the comfort of their plush residences. When asked to stop, they adamantly refused. By the end of January, newly elected Members of Parliament started earning hundreds of thousands in salaries as the countryside lay in ruin. It may just be possible that some of that cash was channeled into financing more chaos.

Has Kenya learnt anything from events of the past nine months? Only time will tell.

Moi lacks moral authority on ethnic clashes

According to the Daily Nation, former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has asked Rift Valley residents who attacked and killed their neighbours during post election violence to apologize.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Moi said an apology would lead to true reconciliation between them and the neighbours whose property they destroyed in the violence that followed disputed elections in December 2007. The violence left close to 1,000 people dead and half a million homeless.

However, the former president conveniently forgets that ethnic clashes in Kenya were institutionalized during his tenure of office. Government documents, such as the Akiwumu Inquiry on tribal clashes reveal deep involvement by Moi’s allies in fanning the fires of hatred.

The return to multi party politics prior to the 1992 General Elections created ethnic tension in the country, setting the stage for the chaos of 2008. The genesis of modern ethnic clashes in Kenya lies in the Rift Valley province, home to Moi’s Kalenjin ethnic group.

Kenya has eight provinces. According to electoral law, a winning presidential candidate must get at least 25% of votes in not less than five provinces in addition to a simple majority of national votes. As campaigns for the 1992 elections gained momentum, it was obvious that Kenneth Matiba would get a majority of votes in Central, Nairobi and possibly, Eastern Provinces. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had a chance of getting at least 25% in his native Nyanza, in Western and Nairobi.

Matiba, a Kikuyu, also had strong possibilities of getting 25% in the Rift Valley thanks to the significant Kikuyu settler population. Moi, fearing that he could lose the presidency, began a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley to ensure that he won the province. Huge chunks of the Rift Valley were declared KANU zones, in reference to Moi’s political party. Moi and his cronies went back to parliament unopposed.

Ethnic wars in 1992 pitted the Kalenjin – Moi’s tribe – with almost all settler communities in the Rift Valley. It was not only the Kikuyu who were affected but large numbers of Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kisii. Non-Kalenjin tribes in the Rift Valley were refered to as, “madoa doa,” meaning, “specks of dirt.” The Rift Valley is also home to the Pokot and Maasai tribes whose politicians were drawn into the Moi alliance, called KAMATUSA. Consequently, Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya settlers were evicted from Pokot and Maasai areas especially around Narok, Enoosupukia and Kapenguria.

The pro-Moi ethnic alliance began calling for Majimbo, a form of federalism. According to such personalities as the late Kipkalya Kones, late Shariff Nassir, William Ntimama and late Paul Chepkok, a federal system of government would ensure that each ethnic group governed itself and had monopoly over jobs, land and commerce within its enclave.

The comments were targetted at the Kikuyu, who have emigrated and settled across the country mostly for economic reasons. Since Kikuyu settlers had a relatively higher standard of living due to commercial activities, the calls for ethnic federalism proved quite popular in the Rift Valley and Coast province.

With the Luo tribe facing persecution due to its oppositionist leanings, both Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son, Raila Odinga, condemned Moi’s tactics. 30 years earlier, it was Jaramogi and founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, who had turned Kenya into a unitary republic after rejecting Majimbo federalism.

As a result of the ethnic chaos, Moi won the 1992 elections with 36% of the vote.

Five years later, there were politically motivated ethnic clashes prior to and after the 1997 General Elections. This time, the flash points were not only the Rift Valley, but also the Coast. In Mombasa, Sharif Nassir, a Moi ally, led KANU campaigns in the city.

Mombasa was founded by Arab traders almost a thousand years ago. The population of Mombasa and the Coastal strip consists of the Swahili, who are of mixed Arab and African ancestry. There is also the Mijikenda tribe as well as Hindus, Persians and Europeans. The building of the railway and the expansion of the Mombasa port in the 20th century attracted large numbers of workers from the interior of Kenya. The workers came mostly from the Luo, Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba and Taita tribes. In the 1980s, a booming tourism industry attracted greater numbers of migrant workers in search of jobs and business opportunities.

During the 1997 campaigns, Nassir and KANU were worried that migrant workers would not vote for Moi. A campaign for Majimbo federalism was began, with Nassir claiming that migrant workers were taking up jobs at the coast meant for local people. Migrant communities were blamed for crime, prostitution and drug trafficking. As it turns out, the local Mijikenda tribe found these messages very appealing and gave their support to KANU. Then came terror.

In August 1997, a group consisting of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of raiders attacked the Likoni Police Station, just across the bay from Mombasa Port. Police officers were killed, prisoners released and firearms looted. Within the Likoni area, large numbers of Luo and Kikuyu were attacked and forced into trains heading for their ancestral homes. It was rumored at the time that the vanguard of the raiding unit consisted of Interahamwe militia, straight out of the Rwanda genocide. Other rumors indicated that the raiders were led by foreign-trained elite forces loyal to Moi.

Evidence was produced in the Akiwumi Commission of Inquiry implicating senior politicians in the Moi government and KANU party. An Asian farmer in Kwale District alleged that prior to the Likoni violence, his land was used to oath local youths but his reports to the police were ignored.

With Moi declared as winner of the 1997 elections, Mwai Kibaki, who came second, went to court to petition the results. Kibaki claimed that there had been electoral malpractices that gave Moi an unfair advantage over his opponents. Moi’s allies in the Rift Valley were outraged by what they saw as Kibaki’s challenge and a fresh round of ethnic clashes began. Kikuyu settlers in Laikipia District were especially affected by incidences of raiders burning homes and looting livestock.

From this overwhelming evidence, it is clear that Moi should be the first person to apologize as far as ethnic clashes are concerned. Otherwise, his calls for Rift Valley people to apologize can only be considered hypocritical at worst and cynical at best.

Raila demands release of ODM youth

Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has demanded the release of youths arrested for ethnic and political clashes that erupted following disputed elections in December 2007.

Raila has also called for the prosecution of Kenyan police officers over the deaths of hundreds of supporters of his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) during the violence.

ODM is accusing the Kenyan government of detaining hundreds, if not thousands, of its youth following political and ethnic clashes in the first quarter of 2008. The youths were charged with rioting, murder, arson, rape and blocking highways. The country’s railway network was also vandalized by supporters of the Prime Minister. Kenya’s security forces have denied detaining ODM youth, saying that most of those arrested were given bonds while awaiting trial.

The violence caused the deaths of close to 1,000 people. Raila Odinga of ODM was running against President Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) in a tight contest. President Kibaki was declared winner with a small margin, but Raila and ODM rejected the results as rigged. ODM supporters took to the streets against the government.

As with most of Africa, both ODM and PNU were supported by rival tribes, and PNU supporters became the target of ODM attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Kikuyu, Kisii and Kamba were evicted from ODM strongholds in Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley provinces for supporting Kibaki. In retaliation, Luo, Kalenjin and Luhya were pushed out of Central and Eastern Kenya. At one point, it seemed as though Kenya would be partitioned into two. By March this year, at least half a million people were homeless, seeking refuge in sordid camps across the country.

Most of the ethnic attacks were in ODM strongholds, but Raila has said the violence was a spontaneous reaction to flawed elections and that there was no ethnic cleansing agenda. The party cites the shooting of 80 people in Kisumu, as evidence of state repression against peaceful demonstrators, a claim the government denies. Human rights bodies and aid agencies believe that slightly over 30% of total deaths were caused by police shootings. The rest were a result of machete attacks, lynchings and arson.

International mediation efforts led by former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, and supported by the United States, resulted in a coalition government. Kibaki retained the presidency and a new post of Prime Minister was created to accomodate Raila. 42 ministers were appointed from ODM, PNU and ODM-Kenya, a splinter group of ODM.

ODM is convinced that it was robbed of victory in the elections while PNU accuses ODM of muscling its way into government. Though the coalition is holding, analysts say that supporters of Raila and Kibaki were unhappy with the compromise. The United States told both leaders that they must ensure the survival of the coalition in order for Kenya to remain peaceful and to continue playing its role as an American ally in the region.

The Prime Minister is facing growing pressure from ODM rank and file who resent his growing ties with President Kibaki and the Kikuyu ethnic group. Raila’s latest remarks could be viewed as a move to assure his supporters that ODM ideals are very much alive.

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