My country is in flames, following the blatant theft of our national elections by incumbent Mwai Kibaki.
An election with record voter turnout, where people stood in lines for up to 10 hours, in the sun, without food, drink, toilet facilities, to vote. Where Kenyans threw 16 powerful ministers out of office, voted en masse against the mindblowing greed, corruption, human rights abuses, callous dismissal of the country's poor, that have characterised the Kibaki administration.
But Kibaki wasn't going to go. When it became clear that the Election Commission of Kenya (ECK) was announcing vote tallies that differed from those counted, hundreds of GSU soldiers(General Service Unit, used by the government for security and crowd control)suddenly marched into the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, where the returns were being announced. Ejected all media except the government mouthpiece Kenya Broadcasting Corporation.
Fifteen minutes later, we watched, dumbfounded, as the ECK chair, Samuel Kivuitu, declared Kibaki the winner. 30 minutes later, we watched in nauseated disbelief and outrage as Mwai Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in on the lawns of State House, in a ceremony that had clearly been planned well in advance.
A ban has been imposed on all live media broadcasts. Curfews slammed onto Mombasa and Kisumu, Kenya's second and third-largest cities. In Nairobi, the city centre is cordoned off by the military. Armed GSU surround Uhuru Park, where the opposition ODM party had called a giant protest rally. Across the country, homes and businesses are being torched, the poorest people attacked and killed, by voters on rampage who have lost their last shred of hope in their power to make change peacefully.
We're all in varying stages of shock, grief, outrage, mourning. Indescribable sadness
, was what one friend texted me this morning. I feel sick
, said another.
From Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director of Kenya's Human Rights Commission
, this text message yesterday:They did it. First through attempts to disenfranchise Luo voters in Nairobi, and finally by manipulating figures. We need a detailed, rigorous, collective response, to express our anger and pain at how voters have been betrayed, and Kenya diminished, shamed, before the rest of Africa and the world.
Remember how we felt in 2002? It's all gone.
Equally sickening is the way Britain and the US have accepted the outcome of an indisputably flawed election, and actually congratulated Mwai Kibaki on his "re-election". Thank god, though, for the European Union Election Observation Mission, who issued the following statement:
Once again,, we would like to commend Kenyan citizens for the strong commitment to peace and democracy that they showed on election day.
With a view to the presidential elections, however, we believe that, at this time, the ECK....has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates. We regret that it has not been possible to address irregularities about which both the EU EOM and the ECK have evidence. The result for the Molo constituency, for example, was announced in the presence of the EU EOM Observers at the constituency tally center as 50,145 votes for President Kibaki, while the ECK today declared the result for the President to be 75,261 votes. Because of this and other observed irregularities, some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election as announced today.
We call on the leaders of Kenya to maintain this spirit of peace and democracy so admirably shown by the people of Kenya on Thursday.
And the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier:The commitment demonstrated by the citizens of Kenya to the democratic process is commendable. However, Canada is very concerned about incidents of violence, and by irregularities in the post-election process and the response by Kenyan authorities.
Canada urges all Kenyans to exercise calm and restraint.
We urge the government of Kenya to exhibit a steadfast commitment to the democratic principles, including respect for the integrity of the electoral process and for the human rights of all Kenyans.
The suspension of live broadcasts, irregularities in the reporting of results, and any move to restrict legitimate scrutiny of election results are of serious concern. Furthermore, it is critical that election irregularities be addressed in a timely, transparent and thorough manner.
I'm typing this in the offices of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights
. We've just held a meeting of Kenyan activists and human rights organizations to talk through the crisis we're in, and formulate a response. Press release under construction..........