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Kenya Mired in Post-Election Chaos

January 07, 2008 06:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Following Kenya’s flawed elections, Africa sees one of its most successful economies pulled down by riots. A coalition government may be the solution.

30-Second Summary

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Soon after the Dec. 27 presidential elections, international observers and opposition leaders denounced the result, which saw incumbent Mwai Kibaki re-elected.

Only a month ago, Kenya was looked up to as an East African bastion of political and economic stability. Now, from amid the rioting, reports have emerged of widespread machete attacks, ethnic violence and rape.

According to CNN, Jan. 4 was the first day of relative calm.

Footage showed a man standing in one of the capital city Nairobi’s biggest slums holding a sign that read, “Shame on you Kibaki, you raped our democracy.” Opposition leader Raila Odinga, of the Orange Democratic Movement, called the ensuing violence “genocide on a grand scale.”

Doris Sadera wrote on the Kenya Imagine blog, “This was my aunt Chebet cradling her three-year-old son for he was too weak to stand as they waited for food relief. My cousin Mwaniki lying in a tent slowly succumbing to the septic wound on his arm awaiting medicine.”

Much of the voting had followed ethnic lines, with Kibaki getting strong support from fellow members of the Kikuyu. Odinga got the vote of the Luo peoples.

Pre-election polling showed Odinga having a comfortable lead, on account of the discontent with Kibaki, who had been accused of corruption.

Initial ballot counting in the constituency of Molo overseen by EU monitoring officials showed a discrepancy of 25,000 votes from the official results. Exit polls in Kibaki’s heartland produced figures that showed more votes cast than there were registered voters, according to British newspaper The Guardian.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer have been trying to thrash out a deal between the Kibaki and Odinga camps.

Kibaki issued an official statement on Jan. 4 after meeting with Frazer saying that he would be willing to enter a coalition government with the opposition.

Headline Links: Opposition calls for new vote; president seeks coalition

Background: The lead-up to the elections

Historical Context: A traditional island of stability

Key Players: Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga

Opinion & Analysis: Kenya's future

Reference Material: Kenya by numbers

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