While we agonize over $3 per gallon gasoline, the subprime loan crisis, and President Bush's last (356 days to go!) State of the Union address, Kenya, long the economic engine and tourist Mecca of East Africa, is starting to come undone. It's sad.
Several weeks ago I posted a first-hand report of the chaos in Mombassa I received from a friend.
Opposition supporters being routed by Kenyan paramilitary police, in the Kibera slum of Nairobi (courtesy New York Times)
The New York Times, from where the above picture was taken, reported that an opposition politician, Mugabe Were, was murdered today - shot dead in his driveway. He was believed to be a key to the restoration of peace, as he resisted his party's call for violence and had married a woman from a different ethnic group.
In today's Christian Science Monitor, the source of the accompanying picture of now-homeless Kikuyu Margaret Mumbi, reporter Scott Baldauf discusses "How Kenya Came Undone". You can also access video reports from the article.
The contested presidential election of 27 December 2007 was the flame that ignited long-simmering tensions involving ethnicity, land, and ultimately, wealth and power. The Kikuyu, the group to which President Mwai Kibaki belongs, is viewed as having stolen the election. The supporters of the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga of the Luo group, who also claims he won the election, then started going after the Kikuyu. Kibaki did not help matters when he went ahead with a new government. Retaliation then came into play, often led by the notorious Mungiki sect, a quasi-religious militia recruited to support the interests of the Kikuyu.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is in Kenya trying to mediate to dispute between Kibaki and Odinga and get the country back on track. It's a tall order, but he has succeeded in getting Kibaki and Odinga to meet.
Be sure to read Scott Baldauf's follow-up article, "How Can Kenya Avoid Ethnic War?"
"I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well." -- President George W. Bush, 29 January 2001