alexa Poll violence was well-planned: report - Daily Nation

Poll violence was well-planned: report

Thursday March 4 2010

By PETER LEFTIE

A report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights lists more than 200 individuals it accuses of facilitating the post-election violence. Among those listed as having either incited, mobilised, transported or funded gangs to attack rival communities are seven Cabinet ministers, several MPs and councillors, political activists, retired military officers and even church leaders.

The report, On the Brink of the Precipice, says 1,162 people lost their lives and about 350,000 were displaced during the violence, which affected 136 constituencies in six of Kenya’s eight provinces. KNCHR draws the conclusion that there was organisation and method to the violence.

“The attacks and counter-attacks were carried out with military discipline. For example, attackers in the Rift Valley participated in oathing ceremonies and donned a semblance of uniform; their attacks anticipated the need to mobilise reserve forces to assist the main attackers,” says the report.

They are alleged to have organised meetings and incited youths to unleash violence against selected communities or mobilised and funded ethnic gangs to attack “unwanted” communities. One Cabinet minister, the report alleges, addressed several meetings in the Kericho and Kuresoi areas, which suffered some of the worst incidents of violence, and urged Kalenjin youths to flush out non-Kalenjins.

The minister is, for instance, said to have dished out money to Kalenjin and Luo youths to flush out Kikuyus from Kericho Town. The report quotes him telling supporters that “all investors in Kericho and in the (tea) estates will be either Kalenjins or Indians”.

At another meeting held in his constituency, the minister is quoted as saying that “he will beat up the Kikuyus till they leave Molo”. The report accuses another Cabinet minister from the North Rift of attending a meeting at Kipkelion near Kericho Town in the company of fellow politicians some time in August 2007 during which the leaders resolved to carry out mass evictions of non-Kalenjins from Rift Valley.

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He is also accused of telling a church congregation to kick out “outsiders” from Rift Valley. During an opening ceremony for the Seventh Day Adventist Church in a place called Mailing, he is alleged to have said that they would uproot the “sangari”, “shake off the soil”, “gather it together” and “burn it”, in reference to “outsider” communities. Also named in the report is a late Cabinet minister Kipkalia Kones, whom the report accuses of planning, inciting and financing the mayhem.

Block the road

It quotes him telling youths some time in January 2008: “When we tell you to block, make sure you block the road, and when we tell you to remove, make sure you remove them.” It adds that raiders were hosted at his home from where they would launch attacks.

The late Ainamoi MP Kimutai Too is also listed as having actively fuelled the mayhem. It cites a gathering he addressed on November 23, 2007, at Stagemart in Kericho Town during which he asked locals to remove madoadoa (stains) living among them.

He allegedly repeated the calls at a subsequent rally in January 2008. A third Cabinet minister is also accused of addressing several meetings in the Nandi area, where attacks on rival communities were planned. The report claims that he funded some of the attacks.

Similar accusations are levelled against a fourth Cabinet minister, who, in the company of the third Cabinet minister, addressed the Nandi meetings and even funded the raids. The fifth Cabinet minister, on the other hand, is accused of using the 2007 election campaigns to incite the Maasai community against other communities residing in Narok.

On or around December 30, 2007, the arsonists torched the Narok market and injured several people after the minister had allegedly told some youths that he had been insulted by Kikuyu women, the report says. The sixth Cabinet minister is accused of attending meetings where the Kikuyu community planned retaliatory attacks in the Rift Valley. The report says he and other politicians in the meetings contributed funds for the attacks.

Reads the section touching on this particular minister: “On diverse dates during January, February and March 2008, they attended meetings to plan for retaliatory violence by the Kikuyus. “They met to plan retaliatory attacks in the Rift Valley. They also contributed funds and organised militia for retaliatory violence.”

The report further accuses another Cabinet minister from Coast Province of paying youths in his constituency Sh500 each to cause violence in Mombasa. A female politician who had just lost her parliamentary seat in Central Rift Valley is also accused of organising youths from her community to attack members of another group she said was responsible for her defeat.

She is said to have proceeded to buy pangas and other weapons from a supermarket in the lakeside town. A prominent politician and wealthy businessman from the North Rift is also said to have assembled militia at his home in Eldoret and later marched to Maili Moja shopping centre, where he addressed them on December 30, 2007.

He allegedly uttered words in support of the violence in an interview with the BBC and tried to justify his actions.
Another power broker in the Moi era, who is now a wealthy farmer and businessman in North Rift, is said to have hosted a raiders’ training camp on his farm, where he gave them food and milk.

Given chance

KNCHR maintains that all persons adversely mentioned were given a chance to defend themselves but they never did so. The report captures the funding of the attacks and counter-attacks: “Both the attacking forces and the counter-attacking forces were transported into areas of operation in vehicles. The violence was funded and sustained mainly by local politicians and business people to support costs such as transport of attackers, weapons and other logistics.”

A strategy the KNCHR investigators say was common in all the theatres of conflict was the barricading of roads by the militia intent on identifying, killing or otherwise injuring travellers from non-local communities. The report states that this pattern of behaviour was particularly notable in the Rift Valley, Nyanza, Western, Coast and Central regions.