African Press International (API)

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Kenya needs a clear-cut – political stand steered by maturity not thirst for power

Posted by African Press International on January 28, 2008

The state of the Nation


The Sunday Standard Online brings you accounts of the state of the nation, about a month after the onset of killings, destruction and displacement triggered by discredited presidential election results.

The stories cast the picture of a nation stung by forces of political rivalry and mired in unresolved historical injustices.

They paint the picture of a nation at pain, with some of the tectonic plates that hold it threatening to drift even as the international community struggles to reconcile the leadership.

Last week, President Kibaki and ODM leader Mr Raila Odinga, who says his victory was stolen in a calculated manipulation of results, met for the first time. Their faces gave way to a smile as the cameras clicked.

But as Raila spoke of the need for peace, truth and justice, the President claimed he was the “duly elected and sworn-in President”.

Hardly an hour later, the ODM team addressed a press conference saying the President had again acted “true to his fraudulent character”.

The Presidents side claims the crisis is not about who won, for the winner was declared by a statutory body. The priority, they say, should be restoration of peace and resettlement of the displaced.

But the killings, displacements and devastation continue, particularly in the Rift Valley.

But much as the unfolding events are shocking, so, too, is what took place in the first few days as Kibaki struggled to wade through the turbulence.

In Rachuonyo District Government operations are grounded. The violence saw GK vehicles burnt and civil servants from a certain community ejected.

Protesters set ablaze 18 Government vehicles immediately the discredited presidential results were announced, and the hurried swearing-in made it worse.

Rachuonyo District Works, National Cereals Board, Kendu Bay Post Office, and District Fisheries offices were burnt down.

An acute shortage of drugs and other medical supplies have hit local hospitals, as residents confront the aftermath of the politically triggered violence.

In Rift Valley, civil servants from a certain community fled. In Eldama Ravine, professionals from one community were ejected and locals have taken over.

“We assist to ensure that life goes on uninterrupted,” says Mr Peter Kipngeno, one of the locals.

Because numerous roadblocks have broken the food exchange chain, the cost of putting a meal on the table has it soared.

In Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, there is no telling when schools would reopen. There is fear and anxiety that no parent can risk sending their children to schools.

Public transport system is chaotic and unpredictable. In all these areas, there is fuel shortage. In Kisumu, pump stations were burnt down.

Government hospitals and health centres have crippling staff shortages.

Law courts are operating at half their capacities because of the unprecedented chaos.

A similar state obtains at the Coast, which has had its share of violence, looting and arson.

In Central Province, amid the relative calm, the challenge is accommodating relatives after being displaced from the Rift Valley, Western, and Nyanza and Coast provinces.

The arrival of yet another displaced kin is enough to send unease across the region.

Meanwhile, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the UN undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mr John Holmes, has warned that Kenya is in danger of falling into an irreversible spiral of violence.

Holmes called on politicians to avoid hate campaigns that would spark more violence.

“While the politics is being sorted out everybody should avoid stirring up those frustrations and tension in ways that could lead to more violence,” he told Reuters.

He said the violence threatens the entire region, as Kenya is a hub for aid efforts to Somalia, northern Uganda, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Lifted and published by Korir, API

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