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U.S. congratulates Kenyan president on re-election amid crimes against humanity

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  • #31

    Eldoret, Kenya, January 9, 2008:
    The scene at a camp for the displaced in the grounds of the cathedral.
    Relief agencies have begun slowly getting food to victims of violence in the city


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        • #34

          Kuinet, Kenya, January 11, 2008:
          Two sons of Kenyan former Olympic athlete Lucas Sang walk ahead of the coffin of their father,
          killed in a machete attack during recent violence over disputed election results


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            • #36

              It will be Kofi Annan's turn tomorrow to arrive in a tense Nairobi, following in the steps of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and John Kufuor, the Ghanian president and head of the African Union, last week, and US diplomats and the former Sierra Leonean president the week before. As the tourists abandon Kenya's beaches, the country has tragically become the premier destination for a new type of visitor - the international mediator. But so far, all of them have managed no more than what could be described as a minibreak, hastily repacking their overnight bags with nothing to show for their efforts.

              Kenya is stuck in a dangerous stalemate, with no point of agreement between Mwai Kibaki, who has claimed presidency in the recent contested election, and his opponent, Raila Odinga, from which to start negotiations on power-sharing. The country is bracing itself this week, when the newly elected MPs are due to take their seats, and there are fears fisticuffs could break out in parliament. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement is poised to rally its supporters back on to the streets in protest at what they believe was a rigged election by Kibaki.

              In London and Washington, not to mention Kampala and Kigali, there is close to panic. London needs Kenya to be an African success story; it gives the country £175m in aid a year. The US badly needs Kenya as a stable ally for its post 9/11 strategy - it is a vital intelligence base for the Horn, Yemen, the Gulf and east Africa. Meanwhile, Africa's landlocked neighbours need Kenya as their link to the world economy; already fuel supplies are running short in Uganda and trade through the port of Mombasa has ground to a halt. No one is underestimating the scale of this crisis.

              While western diplomats and aid officials are quietly gritting their teeth with a combination of frustration and anxiety, the media story - with a few exceptions such as Peter Kimani, a Kenyan journalist on - has been simple: utter bewilderment. Here is how the story has been framed: the peaceful Kenya we know and love from our holiday snaps has suddenly erupted in senseless, tribal barbarism.

              There are two old elements underlying this perspective. There is the persistent western fantasy of the exotic that we project on to Africa, but the peaceful, palm-fringed beaches of our holiday albums (I have them too) are the creation of our tourist imagination, which strips out what we can't or don't want to understand. They have nothing to do with the tumultuous, violent, rapidly changing reality of Kenya in recent years.

              Secondly, the coverage shows how quickly the west reverts to racism. Why is the word "tribal" only used to refer to Africa? Why don't we talk of Belgian tribes or Middle Eastern tribes? No, only in Africa is inter-ethnic violence cast as "ancient", immutable tribalism, associated in the European mindset with barbarism and irrationality. It's a language of self-congratulation - we are civilised, Africans are not. How else could the ludicrous analogies with Rwanda have popped up? Kenya and Rwanda have completely different histories, ethnic relations and political economies. But that is swept aside as irrelevant, and the implication is that African violence is all basically the same. It's as if someone had claimed the blazing Paris suburbs of 2005 were the new Bosnia.

              The bewilderment is born from ignorance. In Britain, a glamorous melange of White Mischief, Elspeth Huxley's The Flame Trees of Thika and a safari trip has passed for "knowing" the country. But Kenya is a complex society with 48 different ethnic groups and the highest internally displaced population in Africa, largely consisting of Somalis and Sudanese. It has some of the biggest shanty towns in Africa and its burgeoning, largely unemployed, population struggles to secure some of the gains of the recent economic boom. It's hard to imagine any country negotiating such chronic insecurity and rapid social and economic dislocation without conflicts of interest flaring up. It's why a close Kenya watcher like David Anderson, professor of African politics at Oxford University, is not particularly surprised by the violence of recent weeks.

              Anderson's most important work recently has been the analysis of how violence has become a part of Kenyan economic and political life. In poorer suburbs where crime is endemic and the police ineffectual and corrupt, gangs have proliferated. They demand bribes from local businesses and how they work is not much different from the police or private security companies.

              Just as the success of your business depends on paying off such gangs, so in politics your success depends on your ability to mobilise the support of "youth wingers". Unemployed young men are used to protect supporters and intimidate opponents. Their tasks can run from ripping down posters of an opponent to torching a neighbourhood. As the price of Kenyan politics has soared, politicians literally can't afford to lose and gangs are part of the strategy to ensure they don't. Always, there is the possibility the gangs will use the screen of politics to settle their own scores.

              This "economy of violence", as Anderson describes it, can mobilise deep resentments along ethnic lines. Eldoret, the scene of the horrific church massacre earlier this month, is famous as a flashpoint. This is the region where Kikuyu, the biggest ethnic group who have done the best since independence, acquired land in the 60s dispossessing the Kalenjin - a grievance that has festered unresolved ever since.

              What you end up with in Kenyan politics is a combination of the local and the global - Odinga was already planning to copy Ukrainian-style mass demonstrations in the case of electoral defeat back in November. But calling his supporters (and his gangs) on to the streets unleashes its own momentum of frustration and anger, some of which goes back to generations-old land disputes, while some is much more recent, provoked by the Kikuyu middle class who have done so well under Kibaki.

              The violence that results is certainly barbaric - children were reported to have been thrown back into the burning church in Eldoret - but it is not about a primordial African capacity for savagery. In a study of the appalling violence in Africa in recent years, Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing, the author, Professor Christopher Cramer, argues that, on a continent that has seen more wars since 1990 than in the whole of the previous century, violence can be a form of communication of last resort. When all other channels of seeking justice for embittered grievances in a corrupt regime appear to have been exhausted, some will see violence as the only way to protect their interests. That doesn't make the violence right, but neither does it make it necessarily senseless. It can have its own awful rationality.

              What we are seeing in Kenya - and in other unstable developing countries - is how human beings behave when faced with the kind of chronic insecurity that globalisation is incubating the world over. Dislocation breeds fear in which old, buried identities become an insurance policy - who looks out for you? - or make you a victim. The outcome is always tragic, and that is what is making so many Kenyans so anxious.


              • #37

                JOHANNESBURG, January 14, 2008 (Reuters) - An official Chinese newspaper's assertion on Monday that Kenyan political turmoil showed Africa was unsuited to Western democracy touched a raw nerve on the continent trying to overcome the legacies of colonialism and "big-man" rule.

                While some acknowledged their governments had failed to deliver promised democracy after colonialism, others were offended at the suggestion that authoritarian rule was acceptable.

                "It is wrong for China to make that conclusion (on Kenya) because democracy is not meant for certain kinds of people," said Blessings Chinsinga, lecturer at the University of Malawi.

                "Democracy is a universal concept based on certain values but the problem is that us as Africans choose to ignore these values of democracy when its our responsibility to do so."

                Kenya's feuding parties prepared on Monday for fresh fighting in parliament and on the streets despite another international push to mediate a post-election crisis that has now killed at least 612 people since the Dec. 27 election the opposition says was rigged.

                The crisis has dented Kenya's democratic credentials and rattled Western donors, who have made veiled statements that if the crisis is not solved it can no longer conduct "business as usual" with Kenya.

                China, eager for Africa's vast natural resources to feed its exploding economy, has kept a low profile over the Kenyan violence.

                But on Monday the People's Daily, the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, said Western powers were to blame for imposing colonial rule and then Western-style electoral democracy on Africa.

                "The Western 'democracy' transplanted to Africa is unsuited to local conditions and has sowed the seeds of disaster," said a commentary in the paper.

                "The election crisis in Kenya is just one typical example. In fact, many African countries' elections have sparked political turmoil."

                Faysal Metaoui, an editorial writer for Algeria's independent El Watan daily, disagrees.

                "This is a racist speech because it implies that Africans can only live under a dictatorship and not in a free democracy," he said.

                "China has a robust economy, but it is not a model of democracy for Africa. Its record in terms of human rights, (and) press freedom are not an example to follow."

                China's relentless investment offensive in Africa has been welcomed by impoverished countries. But it has drawn fire from Western nations and aid groups, who accuse Beijing of turning a blind eye to misrule, corruption and human rights abuses.

                Beijing argues it is spreading prosperity in the world's poorest continent where the West has failed.

                China's billions of dollars in investments in Africa were not enough to deflect criticism from people like Zambian taxi driver Jairus Mwenda, who accused Beijing of hypocrisy.

                "I don't think China is saying the truth about Kenya's problems. I think democracy is better than the Chinese system of suppressing people. And well-organised democracies in Africa have showed us that," he said.

                Lack of transparency from Beijing on details of its investments and aid in Africa has also alarmed Western donors. Some Africans say their own governments should be held accountable for their actions.

                Malawi has cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan after 41 years and established links with China, Malawi's foreign affairs minister minister, Joyce Banda, said on Monday, adding that careful consideration had been given to benefits from China.


                • #38

                  NAIROBI, January 14, 2008 (Reuters) - Kenya's feuding parties prepared on Monday for a new showdown in parliament and on the streets despite another international push to mediate a post-election crisis that has now killed at least 612 people.

                  Leading a group of "Eminent Africans", former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due in Kenya on Tuesday to try to kickstart dialogue between President Mwai Kibaki and his rival Raila Odinga, who have not met since a December 27 vote the opposition says was rigged.

                  "We expect all people to work hard to find a solution," Annan said in a statement. "Pending this, no party should create facts on the ground or engage in acts that complicate the search for a negotiated solution."

                  The seasoned Ghanaian diplomat faces a difficult task.

                  African Union head John Kufuor, and other foreign figures, including Washington's top diplomat for Africa Jendayi Frazer, failed last week to bring the sides together.

                  The crisis has dented Kenya's democratic credentials and resurgent economy, hit supplies to east and central African neighbours, and rattled Western donors.

                  But, the government has indicated it is lukewarm to yet more mediation, despite international pressure for a breakthrough.

                  The Daily Nation newspaper quoted a hardline Kibaki ally as saying the government may sever ties with countries questioning the president's win.

                  "We are just turning a blind eye, but we can just one day wake up and tell them to leave the country," Roads and Public Works Minister John Michuki was reported as saying.

                  "We do not need any foreigners to tell us what to do."

                  A government spokesman said Kibaki's administration had not asked anyone to mediate its affairs. Kenya, as a sovereign state, should be "treated with the same respect shown to other stable democracies", he said.

                  Kibaki, 76, has said he is prepared to speak to Odinga, 63, about a possible power-sharing arrangement.

                  But Odinga who helped Kibaki win a 2002 election before splitting with him three years later, says he will only meet through an international mediator and wants the election re-run.

                  Officials figures say 612 people have been killed in the violence. But local media said it was higher, at 693.

                  Most of the deaths have come from fighting between rival ethnic communities, clashes between police and protesters, as well as looting and mob violence.

                  Human Rights Watch said it was concerned by the number of people injured or killed by gunshot wounds "which appear to have been inflicted by police" in the western town of Kisumu.

                  A researcher for the rights group said doctors in the opposition stronghold had treated 148 outpatients and tended to 44 bodies with gunshot wounds since violence erupted last month.

                  Many Kenyans made the most of a lull in the fighting to try to get their children back to school after a week's delay.

                  Others, however, were still fleeing the tea-growing area, fearful the opposition's call for three days of nationwide protests from Wednesday would stoke more bloodshed in the east African nation. Police have banned the rallies.

                  Kibaki has entrenched his position by naming half a cabinet, convening parliament and continuing with state functions.

                  But the opposition has more seats in the new assembly and Tuesday's opening session promises to be a bruising affair.

                  Opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) legislators are threatening to sit on government seats they say are rightfully theirs. The first business will be to name a new speaker.

                  At the weekend, the European Union and United States said there could be "no business as usual" with Nairobi unless a political compromise was agreed that restored stability.


                  • #39

                    El Doret, Kenya, January 14, 2008:
                    Refugees sit in the back of a truck waiting to be taken to Nairobi
                    Last edited by Guest 123; 17th January 2008, 17:28.


                    • #40


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post


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                          • #43
                            Last edited by Guest 123; 19th January 2008, 19:49.


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