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Chaos in Kenya

Latest update : 2008-01-28

FRANCE 24 reporters Virginie Herz and Cyril Vanier are in Kenya to observe and analyse the post-election demonstrations and violence. They answer your questions about the situation.

To those of you who are there on the ground and after three days of demonstrations, are we justified in saying for sure that there really is an ethnic conflict under way in Kenya? Because the example of Rwanda in 1994 is still firmly in the collective memory of humanity! And what's the position of the international community?
(Alain Pierrot Wembo, Kinshasa, DR Congo, Friday Jan. 18, 2008)
Virginie Herz:  No, it’s not an ethnic conflict like in Rwanda; it’s more about social and political tensions. You could say that these elections have rekindled ethnic tensions  - which were not very pronounced – largely due to the fact that President Kibaki and opposition leader Odinga belong to two different tribes, the Kikuyus and the Luos. In Kenya there are 42 tribes. To find out more about these tribes, watch our reports; they cover this aspect.
Why won’t the United Nations or African Union intervene?
(Armand Henri-Gelase Bouckethy, Wednesday 16 January 2008)
The South African archbishop Desmond Tutu and the president of the African Union, John Kufuor, have twice failed to bring reconciliation to the country. President Mwai Kibaki has shown that he did not support their mediation efforts. He said that they were welcome in Kenya if they wanted to join a safari tour but not if they wanted to meddle with Kenyan politics.
At Mathare, where we spent the last few days, people were disappointed when Kofi Annan dropped his visit to Kenya. Overall, they believe the middle class has let them down and they now rely above all on their own strength.
Kenyans must understand that even if Raila becomes president, that doesn’t mean they’ll leave the ghetto. There’s no magic wand that will resolve all their problems.
(Rosalind Bauert, Wednesday 16 January)
Half the Kenyan population lives under the poverty line. And nevertheless, Kenya is one of the richest countries in Eastern Africa. In the Mathare slum, in Nairobi, houses are overcrowded and rent is very high. The riots are the result of economic and social tensions.
Kibaki has been president for some time and people have the impression that a new face in government could bring change. In the Mathare slum, rioters chant “no peace, no justice without Odinga.”
It’s noteworthy that Kikuyu and Luo communities live side by side in the Mathare slum. But then the demonstrations end and the police leave the area, the Kikuyu members have a hard time. We witnessed people being threatened or being beaten up. Even if the demonstrations are centered on political or economic issues, the violence has generated inter-ethnic tensions. When attacked, the Kikuyu tribe responds… it’s a vicious circle of violence.

Date created : 2008-01-20