HRW – Ballot to Bullets – Organized Political Violence and Kenya’s Crisis of Governance


The scale and speed of the violence that engulfed Kenya following the controversial presidential election of December 27, 2007 shocked both Kenyans and the world at large. Two months of bloodshed left over 1,000 dead and up to 500,000 internally displaced persons in a country viewed as a bastion of economic and political stability in a volatile region.

The ethnic divisions laid bare in the aftermath of the elections have roots that run much deeper than the presidential poll. No Kenyan government has yet made a good-faith effort to address long simmering grievances over land that have persisted since independence. High-ranking politicians who have been consistently implicated in organizing political violence since the 1990s have never been brought to book and continue to operate with impunity. Widespread failures of governance are at the core of the explosive anger exposed in the wake of the election fraud.

The Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation between the political parties provides Kenya’s leaders with a historic opportunity to step back from the brink and to reform and establish institutions that can help build long-term stability. The establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on political violence; an Independent Review Committee on the elections; a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission; and the agreement on the general parameters for a constitutional review process – all agreed in such a short time frame – represent a serious and positive response to the crisis.

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Nigerian diplomat jets in as peace talks resume

Nigerian diplomat jets in as peace talks resume

Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji from Nigeria is expected to arrive today to assist former UN chief Kofi Annan in the mediation efforts. Mr Adeniji is a former Nigerian minister and UN official. And Government and ODM negotiators yesterday held an informal meeting to prepare for the official resumption of the mediation talks today.

Government representatives, Cabinet ministers Martha Karua, Sam Ongeri and Moses Wetangula, and MP Mutula Kilonzo met ODM’s Musalia Mudavadi, William Ruto, James Orengo and Sally Kosgei in the absence of Mr Annan. And the African chapter of the Human Rights Watch has said a political agreement in Kenya was a step forward, but politicians must take immediate steps to ensure accountability for human rights violations for further negotiations to build lasting stability.

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Testimony of Chris Albin-Lackey on Behalf of Human Rights Watch – 7 Feb 08

Testimony of Chris Albin-Lackey on Behalf of Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)

7 February 2008
Posted to the web 8 February 2008

Following is the testimony of Chris Albin-Lackey on Behalf of Human Rights Watch at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on African Affairs hearing on “The Immediate and Underlying Causes and Consequences of Flawed Democracy in Kenya.”

Thank you, Chairman Feingold, and Members of the Committee, for inviting Human Rights Watch to participate in this hearing. My name is Chris Albin-Lackey and I am a senior researcher with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. Just over a week ago I returned from a research mission that began our ongoing assessment of the human rights impact of Kenya’s post-election crisis. We will be carrying out more research on the ground in the coming weeks that will seek to document the effect of the ongoing violence on ordinary Kenyans, identify the individuals most responsible for fomenting it and contribute towards charting a way forward that addresses the underlying causes of the crisis.

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Human Rights Watch – Eldoret, January 24, 2008

Kenya: Opposition Officials Helped Plan Rift Valley Violence

Police Should Protect Displaced Persons Camps

(Eldoret, January 24, 2008) – Human Rights Watch investigations indicate that, after Kenya’s disputed elections, opposition party officials and local elders planned and organized ethnic-based violence in the Rift Valley, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks, targeting mostly Kikuyu and Kisii people in and around the town of Eldoret, could continue unless the government and opposition act to stop the violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leadership to take immediate steps to stop its supporters from committing further attacks. At the same time, Human Rights Watch said the Kenyan police should urgently deploy extra officers to the region to protect displaced people and resident Kikuyu communities.  

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