Daily Revolt

January 02, 2008

Pressure Mounts With 275 Killed in Kenya

Another example of democracy on the decline worldwide:
International pressure mounted Wednesday on Kenya's leaders to bring an end to postelection violence that has shaken the country and killed more than 275 people, including dozens burned alive as they sought refuge in a church.

The killing of up to 50 ethnic Kikuyus Tuesday as they sheltered in a church in the Rift Valley city of Eldoret fueled fears that ethnic conflicts were deepening in what has been one of Africa's most stable democracies.

The U.N. cited Kenyan police as saying 70,000 people had been displaced in five days of violence. Around 5,400 people also have fled to neighboring Uganda, said Musa Ecweru, that country's disaster preparedness minister. Several hundred people also have fled to Tanzania, officials there said.

Much of Nairobi was quiet and deserted Wednesday, though clashes continued in the city's giant Mathare slum.

Livingstone Wesonga said his wife lost their fifth child on Tuesday night after complications during the delivery. Vigilante groups roaming the streets kept the family penned in their home and no ambulance or doctor was willing or able to come.

Asked why he had not fled with his family, Wesonga said: "Where can I take them? Every place is not safe because this thing is spreading."

Government spokesman Alfred Mutua downplayed the violence, saying it had only affected about 3 percent of the country's 34 million people. "Kenya is not burning and not at the throes of any division," he said.

Mutua said the security forces had arrested 500 people since skirmishes began.

President Mwai Kibaki was inaugurated for a second term Sunday, but his rival Raila Odinga says the poll was rigged.

The head of the country's electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, said he had been pressured by both sides to announce the results quickly — and perhaps wrongly. The country's oldest newspaper, The Standard, on Wednesday quoted Kivuitu as saying, "I do not know whether Kibaki won the election."

In a joint statement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband also said there were "independent reports of serious irregularities in the counting process."

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