• Loading

Uneasy calm in Kenya

An uneasy calm has settled over Kenya ahead of a mass rally which the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has called for Thursday 3 January.

‘Tomorrow is showdown day,’ said Dereje Alemayehu, Christian Aid’s country manager.

The government has banned the rally but Alemayehu says many people are determined to go.

Mr Kabaki was officially re-elected president in last Thursday’s elections.

The opposition is refusing to accept the results claiming that the election was rigged. 

Almost 300 people have since died in the worst violence Kenya has seen in a generation.

Church deaths

They include dozens of people - mainly Kikuyu, the same tribe as Kibaki - who died in a church that was torched in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.

‘The burning of the church was the most shocking event we have seen,’ said Alemayehu. ‘This kind of ethnic killing is extremely unusual for Kenya.

‘We are seeing three kinds of violence here. First we have the spontaneous rioting and groups of young people who are venting their frustrations by hunting down people of different ethnic groups. Secondly we have the excessive use of force by the security forces. 

And thirdly, normal criminals and opportunist are using the riots as an opportunity to loot. This is a very volatile combination which can escalate into a large scale inter-ethnic conflict.

Questionable result

Domestic election observers have questioned the credibility of the vote tallying process at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in the 2007 elections.

The Kenya Elections Domestic Observers Forum (Kedof) said: ‘In our view, considering the entire electoral process, the 2007 General Election was credible in as far as the voting process is concerned.

‘The electoral process lost credibility towards the end with regard to the tallying and announcement of presidential results.’

Some of Christian Aid partner organisations are members of Kedof, which also said the voting was free and fair and voters turned out in large numbers.

It however said, ‘The handling of the results of the polling and the rest of the process thereafter, in our opinion, was questionable’.

International action

Mr Kibaki was declared the winner on Sunday after a controversial three-day counting process.

EU observers said the poll 'fell short of international standards' but the government has denied fraud.

Alemayehu says most Kenyans are placing their hopes in diplomatic efforts by the UK government, the Commonwealth and the Africa Union. 

John Kufuor, the current Africa Union chairman is expected in Nairobi Tuesday. It’s expected he will ask the government and the opposition to call for calm and restraint, and to engage in talks to find a solution to the crisis.  A government of national unity is one of the options considered.