By Raila A. Odinga
We in the Pentagon have watched with growing alarm the spate of violence, killings and ethnic cleansing that is sweeping the nation in advance of the 27 December election. This pattern that Kenyans are frighteningly aware of from the election conducted under the Moi regime, and which we thought was a relic of the past.
But the same vicious tactics are once again being used to intimidate Kenyans into either not voting or voting for those who are threatening them. It is unconscionable that such violence has returned under a government that repeatedly professes a commitment to human rights and the free and peaceful exercise of the right to vote, but whose record continues to show very opposite.
In the last 24 hours alone, seven Kenyans have lost their lives in suspicious incidents, with other deaths that the media is not aware of. Politically –instigated violence has been ravaging Kuresoi, Molo and Mt. Elgon for some time. The Mt. Elgon clashes have in fact been with us for more than a year now and they represent the most glaring evidence of the state’s refusal to provide the security our people so desperately need. This violence has now escalated even further, and now Naivasha, Nairobi and its environs are being targeted as well.
I have in fact just come from the Mater Misereicordia Hospital, where I went to express solidarity, and provide consolation to Charles Werangai Masinde, who was brutally targeted in an attack Saturday that took the life of ODM aspirant Alice Ondutto. The circumstances of the killing, in which the killers trailed he car right to her gate but did not even attempt any kind of robbery, reveals that this was a political assassination. I would like to take this opportunity to offer my profound condolences to Alice’s family and friends about this dastardly attack, whose perpetrators must be apprehended and punished by our courts.
As you know, two months ago, another parliamentary aspirant, Ms. Flora Tera Igoki, was viciously attacked. At that time, the government refused to condemn this atrocity against a vulnerable woman, and it is no wonder that her attackers are still at large. In the meantime, an Assistant Minister of this government whose official car was apprehended filled with a huge cache of unlawful weaponry, is also a free man. An out-going MP found with a similar cache was also set free. These two cases reveal the capacity and determination of the police to carry out its responsibilities as well as the high level interference that permits the continuation of these crimes.
In addition, the most inflammatory leaflets designed to unleash violence in the Rift Valley against the ODM leadership were printed in Nairobi and then transported by policemen to the province. It is no wonder that in this environment of impunity for those who practice violence that Alice was so easily gunned down.
ODM is also aware of certain ethnic groups being ejected forcibly from Kikuyu Township, Kawangware, Eastlands and Githurai by both official intimidation and by landlords determined to ensure a PNU victory. These evictions and the violence that has accompanied some of them is causing tension among people who for years lived in these communities peacefully.
While all these violent crimes designed to influence the outcome of this election must be condemned in the strongest terms possible, the execution of over 500 young men in what are now being called the killing fields of Ngong has raised the level of murderous criminality to an altogether another level. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this particular crime against humanity verges on genocide. That Kenya has descended to the level of banana republics in which death squads operate at will. This terrible development must unite Kenyans in voting out the PNU government, whose disdain for the poor has now been transformed into something much more vicious.
I have appealed to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya to exercise his authority in ensuring that such violence, which will only result in a flawed election, is immediately brought to an end. I also appeal to our international partners to intercede on behalf of Kenyans to bring an end to this violence.
This article was first published in Raila 2007 - the official website of Raila Odinga