Monday, January 28, 2008

Rival tribes trade revenge attacks in Kenya

The situation in Kenya is getting worse. Violence sparked by last month’s disputed presidential election is spreading throughout the country. Even worse, the violence is becoming a bloody clash between tribal groups.

Outbreaks of violence began in the sprawling slums of Nairobi. Early on the violence was characterized as being driven by poverty, then, as they continued it was viewed as the supporters of President Kibaki versus those of challenger Raila Odinga (who is from the Luo community).

But beneath the politics were elements of ethnic strife. Kibaki is a Kikuyu, and since the country’s independence, Kenya’s rulers have all come from the Kikuyu. Violence against Kibaki’s supporters turned into violence against the Kikuyus in general.

And now the Kikuyus are fighting back, attacking Luos where they find them. The situation is beginning to look like that in Rwanda where in 1994 the Tutsis and Hutus launched into a genocidal civil war. As many as one million people were killed in just a matter of weeks.

Negotiations between the two political factions have failed to lead to a power-sharing agreement, a move seen necessary to quell the growing violence.
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