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Three Consecutive Nights of Raids in the Slums and More Reasons for Concern

Residents of Huruma gather around the body of a man shot dead by police in a late-night confrontation. © Anne Holmes

The Nation published an article yesterday about the police raids in Mathare North on Wednesday. According to them, 85 people were arrested, including children. At the court hearing on Thursday, people were shocked when a man stood up, identifying himself as the landlord among those arrested, and said that he and his son had been taken away with the group to prison, and that he had never made any complaint of non-payment. Thursday a similar police raid occurred in the Nairobi slum of Ngomongo, followed by a Mungiki attack. And Friday in the usually calm area of Huruma a Mungiki raid occured sometime around midnight followed by police intervention. Residents suspect that the gang members came from another area. One man was shot dead by police after he was allegedly spotted with a pistol chasing after a man. Two others were shot, not fatally, including one woman who was standing on her balcony. Two people also went to hospital with machete wounds.

Yesterday evening forest fires broke out in Nakuru and Laikipia areas. The relative insecurity of Kenya is paving the way for all sorts of crime and vigilante group attacks. These events seem eerily portentous in light of what we might expect for next week. ODM strongly emphasized it would call for “mass civil disobedience” if a concrete power sharing arrangement was not reached by Wednesday of next week. PNU seems unwilling to give a Prime Ministerial post executive power, which would render Odinga something of a decoration rather than a figure with real puissance.

In the meantime, I am beginning to wonder where Kofi Annan is in all this. He has not appeared before the press since Monday when he met with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in Nairobi. He has issued statements through his press secretary and was heard speaking on the radio but has not appeared in front of cameras since Monday. The press corps waited patiently until late yesterday evening for him to emerge with the negotiating team, but he did not appear. Final statements before the weekend from those participating in the talks did not provide much hope for a solution, stating that PNU had agreed to a PM post for Odinga “in principle.”

International Crisis Group (ICG) published its first ever report on Kenya on February 21. The statement declared that the relative calm which had returned to Kenya should not be taken as a sign of peace. Mounting evidence of armed militias preparing for confrontations, it said, should serve as warning bells to the disagreeing political parties that if a solution to the political crisis is not reached immediately, civil strife will more than likely ensue. We are all sadly bracing ourselves for what is to come next week.


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