Cartoon in today’s Daily Nation.
Update on Robert Juma’s murder: In an update from my July 7 Report on the assassination of Robert Juma (http://davidzarembka.com/2017/06/29/445-male-circumcision-in-western-kenya-june-30-2017/), Getry has told me that the police captured two of the people who were in the gang that killed him. They then gave the names of five other men involved. The community went out and lynched one of these people and set fire to the dwellings on the plot of another. It turns out that the leader of the gang was the man whose house was burned down. Getry, Erastus Chesondi, and a relative of Robert Juma arranged a meeting on Wednesday, August 2, with him and others of his gang! Getry told me that they had to give their pocketbooks/money and cell phones to them before the meeting. When Getry was asked why they didn’t refuse, she said that they had guns on both sides of their legs, machetes, and automatic rifles. Naturally they were quite scared. She said, “One has to be very careful on what one says.” They did not talk much about Robert Juma’s death, but rather on the situation and the future. The leader of the gang said that he would revenge and kill those who burned his house down – something not practical since the whole community had burned down his house. He asked the government to build him a new house and then he would stop his violent activities. This does not seem like a possibility. Nonetheless the conversation seemed to have calmed him down and he said that he would desist from violent activities for a while. This is another indication of how useful talking and more importantly listening is in resolving violent conflicts.
Election Results and Update: Late Friday night, the IEBC officially announced the results of the election: For president, Uhuru Kenyatta received 8,009,175 votes or 54.3% of the vote while Raila Odinga received 6,608,405 votes or 44.8%. Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner.
Immediately rioting broke out in some of Raila’s Luo strongholds – slums in Nairobi, Kisumu, and other smaller town in Luo areas of western Kenya. The police responded with tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights reported that 24 people have been killed from police brutality since the election on Aug. 8. In one case in Mathari slum an 10 year old child playing on the balcony of her house was killed by a stray bullet. In another frightening incident in a slum in Kisumu, the police invaded a house by throwing tear gas through the window, knocked down the door, beat the husband and wife and their child and then hit the 6 month old baby the mother was carrying on the head – the baby is now in a coma at the Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu.
The violence continued on Friday and Saturday in a few areas. By Sunday, the various places had become calm. There are substantial reasons why this post-election violence will not explode as occurred during the 2008 post-election violence.
- Unlike the situation in 2008, the police were well prepared to respond to any violence.
- The election results in 2008 were clearly rigged and Raila’s supporters from all tribes thought that the election had been stolen from him.
- In 2008 Raila called for mass demonstrations. So far in this election he has not done so. He has, though, called for a strike for today. NASA said they will announce their plans tomorrow.
- In 2008, the media in Kenya emphasized the violence. TV stations for example replayed the most violence scenes again and again (much as the destruction of the World Trade Center building on 9/11 was replayed countless times– this ought to give reflection of how much this repetitive media exposure legitimatized the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq).
This does not mean that our peacemaking work is finish. On the contrary TCSC is going to be quite busy with repairing the wounds from this election, particularly at the local level.
Nasa leader Raila Odinga addresses his supporters Sunday in Mathare, Nairobi, where he had gone to console the family of a 10-year-old girl who was shot dead by a stray police bullet. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
The NASA response to their defeat: During the tallying of the votes, NASA made an announcement that their tallying center showed that they were winning by over 1 million votes – there was no substantiation for this claim. They claimed that the voting was hacked with passwords obtained during the torture of Chris Msando, the IEBC ICT acting director, before he was killed. While NASA continues to claim that they were rigged out of the election, they have said that they will not go to court since during the 2013 election the courts threw out their evidence on a technically and therefore it was just part of the election rigging. NASA has claimed that 100 people have been killed by the police, but again without substantiation. They have just charged the Daily Nation, the international observers who have determined that the election was conducting satisfactorily, and every other institution that does not support their claims to be biased and part of the cover-up. While Raila has called for a strike today, the government and even the ODM’s (Raila’s party) governor of Nairobi and governor-elect of Kisumu have asked for the end of violence and for people to return to work. This past week has ground the Kenya economy to a halt and businesses, both small and large, are financially suffering.
Did Uhuru actually win: Yes, he increased his vote by only 4 percent from the 2013 election. This means he had to move only 2% of the voters from the opposition to his side. The new Jubilee Party was somewhat successful in picking up votes in the battleground counties and even in NASA strongholds. On the other hand NASA which tried to pick up votes in Jubilee areas failed badly – for example, the Kalenjin governor, Isaac Ruto, who joined the NASA opposition, was badly defeated. Moreover the consolidated Jubilee Party picked up seats at all levels so that they have a slight majority in parliament, the senate, and the national assembly. This means that Jubilee will be able to easily push through their agenda at the national level. This improvement includes in Nairobi County taking over the governorship and majority in the county assembly from ODM. NASA’s Deputy Presidential candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, perhaps has lost his status as Kamba “king man” since his Wiper Party did poorly.
$12 million Chinese-built Sigiri bridge in Western Kenya collapsed before it was completed. President Uhuru Kenyatta inspected the project two weeks before the collapse.
Was the election fair and free: No. While the tallying of the votes was a tremendous improvement over the prior two elections, there were still problems. While civil society observers have noted a number of mistakes and irregularities, these would not change the outcome of the election. But an election is much more than standing in line casting votes and counting them. The party primary elections were atrociously run. The government, contrary to the Kenyan Constitution, used government officials in their campaigning, including, for example, Uhuru once publicly threatening a Kamba chief for not supporting his election. The Jubilee Party crisscrossed the country dedicating projects which were often rushed to completion for the election – the collapse of the bridge pictured above illustrates a problem with doing this. But the assassination of Chris Msando shortly before the election and the raid on the NASA parallel tallying center and the expulsion of four foreigners working at the center are significant blots on this election. The continued extensive bribing of voters is another concern. There was substantial pre-election intimidation and violence. Then the financing of the elections was totally opaque giving the impression that various behind the scenes cartels which run the Kenya economy are the real beneficiaries of the election, regardless of who won. While there was hope that this election might begin the end of tribal based voting, it is disappointing that this also did not happen.
The bright side: One result of this election was that in the devolved counties, governors and members of the county assemblies (MCA) who did not produce were defeated, sometimes embarrassingly. Hopefully this will be a sign to the new governors and MCAs that they better curtail local corruption, produce substantial results, not bicker and fight each other, and/or load themselves with perks such as large sitting allowances and foreign travel – if they don’t, they will be out in five years.
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.
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