Election "results" lead to tribal warfare in Kenya


The road from Nairobi to Kisumu, normally a busy artery ferrying goods to Uganda and tourists to the Rift Valley's­flamingo-lined lakes, became an avenue of terror as tribe turned on tribe and neighbour on neighbour.

Brandishing bows and arrows, their heads draped in the traditional leaves of war, fighters from the Kalenjin tribe marauded through a Kikuyu village, razing homes and erecting road blocks.

"No to peace," chanted the tribesmen, who support Raila Odinga, the presidential challenger.

"We are a country at war," one said as he twirled an axe in his hand. "We will not stop fighting until Raila is declared president."

The victims of Kenya's anger towards President Mwai Kibaki, once regarded as one of Africa's few genuine democrats, now seen as its newest autocrat, were everywhere to see.

In a nearby village, the charred corpse of George Mwaura, a Kikuyu farmer, lay on the floor of his gutted home.

Other tribes had suffered too. At dawn, 50 armed men attacked a settlement known as a Total Trading ­Centre in the Molo region.

After burning down a row of shops they marched towards the homes of Peter Maliga, a farmer from the Kisii tribe which also largely supported Mr Odinga.

As his wife, Sarafina, cowered inside with their two young children, Mr Maliga went out to reason with the attackers, who he thought were Kikuyus.

Six hours later, Sarafina finally found her husband's body outside a local bar. "His eyes had been pulled out," she said, with her two-year-old son, Elvis, strapped to her back.

"His face was covered in slashes. He was unrecognisable."

Despite sporadic flare-ups over the years, Kenya is unused to violence on this scale. A peaceful bastion surrounded by some of Africa's most miserable countries, it has always managed to avoid serious bloodshed despite underlying tensions in a country of more than 40 tribes.

That a popular tourist destination had degenerated so swiftly into chaos is the result of an election held on Thursday as dubiously conducted as any in Kenyan history.


One might be tempted to blame Al Gore. He was not as violent, but he has set an example of bad losers in elections that is spreading around the world in areas where the culture is more violent and courts are not trusted. If President Mwai Kibaki did steal this election he is already paying a very high price for that theft. His country will lose one of its main businesses as tourist avoid the violence. He needs to find a way to resolve this quickly. About the only potential resolution would be to have new elections with outside supervision.


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