Potential Hot Spots: Corruption and Chaos in Kenya

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: Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War

January 4, 2008: Protests continued throughout Kenya, with ethnic (tribal) clashes occurring in several towns. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga and his supporters have called on President Mwai Kibaki to resign. Diplomats are discussing ways to help diffuse the turmoil including "fact finding" missions and possible vote recounts. A power-sharing deal between the Kibaki's PNU and Odinga's ODM is another possibility. African, European, and American diplomats are particularly dismayed at the post-election violence since Kenya is viewed as a sub-Saharan African political success. It has been a success in comparison to other nations, but that success is relative and the new violence shows it to be tenuous. In 2002 Kibaki was elected on an anti-corruption platform, but governmental corruption continues. Odinga actually supported Kibaki in that election. In 2007 Odinga denounced Kibaki's failure to control corruption and ran a populist campaign that targeted "the wealthy." In the election aftermath it appears that to some ethnic Luo rioters "the wealthy" may be a code word for Kikuyus. Kenyan sources reported a number of Kikuyu homes have been burned by rioters. However, sensational media comparisons to Rwanda in 1994 are off target. The 1994 Rwandan genocide was planned by Hutu radicals. Kenya in 2008 is not the isolated Rwanda of 1994. Nairobi is an international city with instant media communications—there are a lot of eyes watching the violence. Kenya has access to the sea. Kenya is also much wealthier than Rwanda. However, the danger of tribal war is very real. In fact, the post-election violence is already a low-level tribal war.

December 31, 2007: On December 30, after incumbent president Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the December 27 presidential election, riots broke out in Nairobi and other Kenyan towns as opposition groups protested the results. By December 31, at least 125 people were reported killed in rioting. Major protests occurred in Nairobi, in Kisumu, in the port of Mombasa (Kenya's major port), and in Nakuru. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga and his supporters rejected the government's claim that Kibaki had won. The government count gave Odinga 4.35 million votes and Kibaki 4.58 million votes. Pre-election polls indicated Odinga was well ahead of Kibaki. The chief issue in the election was the endemic corruption in Kenya's government. There was also the issue of tribal favoritism. Kibaki is a Kikuyu. Odinga is a Luo. The Kikuyu are Kenya's "business tribe" and tend to be wealthier and have more access to education opportunities. Odinga draws a lot of political support from the Luo tribe. Kikuyus account for around 22 percent of Kenya's population of 37 million. The Luhya (Baluyia) are 14 percent and Luo 13 percent. Many Luhya support Odinga's coalition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Kibaki's party is the Party of National Unity (PNU).

 

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