Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chaos in Kenya continues

We're entering about the third week of the post-election crisis situation in Kenya, and although the situation has eased a bit, it's still volatile and the current perceived stability is very very tenuous. Effects of this crisis have rippled across East Africa, including back to the village in Uganda where we spent 3 of the last 5 months of our lives. (post to come on this topic) The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, (who has the support of the poorest Kenyans and many marginalized ethnic groups) has accused the current president, Mwai Kibaki, (who represents the dominant tribe) of vote rigging. International observing groups from the AU, US, and EU have said vote rigging probably occurred on both sides, and the only way forward would include power sharing followed by a new election. In the last week, both sides have offered to meet the other, but only subject to conditions. Odinga has called for massive nationwide protests, while Kibaki has ordered police to breakup any rallies that formed. It's a mess.

Here are some news articles, including one from Uganda lamenting Kenya's descent into chaos and its impact on the rest of the East African community, an article about how tourism in Kenya has suffered in what is a normally stable country, and a behind the scenes look at how economic inequality, not just tribalism, is behind a lot of the tension.

My coworker at Columbia, Judy Omumbo, with whom I shared an office at the IRI before we left for Uganda, is a native Kenyan. I got to speak with her a bit this week about how her family has been affected by the chaos over the last few weeks. (Luckily, she left Nairobi the day before the flawed election results that sparked the worst violence were announced) She said that although her uncle has been threatened their family has been safe.

Can you imagine having to worry about your safety or the safety of your family, just because of their race, or beliefs, or gender?

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