See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Is Kenya turning into a police state?

How would you describe the political situation in Kenya? White African uses three words to describe millions of Kenyan voters following the announcement that the Mwai Kibaki has won by 200,000+ votes: disappointed, angry and jaded. :

Those are the words that describe millions of Kenyan voters.
Disappointed at their current president, Mwai Kibaki, for playing Moi-politics.
Angry at their ministers of parliament, voting an unprecedented number out of office.
Jaded by the election results – wondering if bothering to come out for the next elections is even necessary.
Of the three, I would suggest that citizens being jaded is the most harmful for the long-term. Why bother voting if you can’t have the confidence in your government to count them openly and honestly?

Daudi of Mental Acrobatics chose one word to describe the mood: uncertainty;

Uncertainty is the word I would use to describe the mood around Kenya this morning in contrast to fear and anger last night.

Kenyan bloggers have been covering events in Kenya as they unfold after it was announced that Mwai Kibaki won the presidency. Here is a short roundup. As events are changing rapidly, you may also visit Mashada and KenyaUnlimited.

Ory writes about the total media blackout on her blog, Kenyan Pundit:

have no news to report. It’s a total total blackout. Watching TV feels like watching TV under some crazy dictatorship. I mean we all know that the country is on fire, but KBC is airing Just for Laughs. WTF???
I, however, remain committed to keeping whatever news I can flowing so keep the info coming (even though it might sit in moderation for a while). And hopefully I’ll have something updates tomorrow from what is now for all intents and purposes my bunker.

The Media Council of Kenya has denounced the on live broadcasts:

- Media Council has strongly denounced the ban on live broadcasts. I suspect that media houses were caught off-guard and are just now trying to find their footing. I’ve been told that KISS fm has been doing a good job with updates. Also hopefully print media will be back in full force tomorrow (if we can get to somewhere where we can buy papers that is).
NTV and KTN now broadcasting news updates every hour.

Thinker’s Room reaction to the ban on live broadcasting:

Try harder. You can’t silence the truth.

Where Madness Resides reports:

KTN is not broadcasting its Prime Time News. Instead, it streaming CNN feed. Channel 1 has switched off Aljazeera and is broadcasting Christian music videos. There's a preacher on KBC 1, while Citizen is broadcasting a premier league match

Kenya is turning into a police state, Ory writes:

All live broadcasts have been suspended by the government. The order was released as ODM was addressing their press conference.
This is now officially a police state.
So we have no idea what ODM is saying, and what the security situation is around the country.

Cold Tusker wonders, “Is Kenya reverting to a police state?”:

• The Election Commission of Kenya bans access to all independent media houses except the government/state mouthpiece KBC when announcing the general election results.
• The ECK declares kibz as the winner… fine… that is their mandate but what is pissing me off is NOT Raila's “loss” but the “state of emergency” that has been declared in citoes like Kisumu soon thereafter!!! Nairobi has been under siege all evening.
• john “the home guard” michuki has clamped down on the independent media. Live broadcasts have been banned as has coverage of politics. BULLSHIT…
• The police, GSU & army are being deployed all over. The bloodshed has started as many opposition supporters have been killed already.

Ory sees the role of social media, particularly the video-sharing site, YouTube, in a situation like this:

If I was ODM, I’d jump on Youtube right now. But I suspect that the internet and mobile phones are next so don’t be surprised if I go quiet (it has been a good ride folks).

Where are the ODM pentagon members?, asks Daudi Were, following rumours that top ODM officials have been arrested and one shot:

Last night’s report that they had been arrested and shot have been rubbished by the police. The police say they have not arrested any pentagon members. Which of course leaves the possibility that they were apprehended by another branch of the security forces for example the army. What I do know is that many senior opposition figures are attempting to contact them with no success, which in itself is pretty scary. Of course this could all be part of an elaborate plan to keep the location of the ODM Pentagon secret, especially from those of us outside the inner circle such as myself.
Those of us in Nairobi with a network of information are lucky. The further you get from Nairobi the wilder the rumours. For example, in Kakamega in western Kenya, the story circulating is that all the members of the Pentagon are in jail for treason/sedition and their lives are in danger.

According to Kumekucha, the rumours have been denied:

Police have denied claims that Raila Odinga has been arrested.

Interestingly they have said nothing about the other Pentagon members.

Police have also declared this afternoon’s planned ODM meeting and swearing in of President Raila Odinga and his parallel government illegal.

Daudi also writes about clashes between rival political gangs in Nairobi:

For those who know the area, the area around Mimosa court was the scene of fighting amongst rival gangs, pro and anti government. Ngong Road earlier today was also a no go area.

Kibaki’s political dilemma:

Kibaki’s Party of National Unity only has 37 MPs most of who are from his Central Province. Logic suggests that there is no way you can have the president and vice president from the same tribe. In addition Kibaki needs to bring in many more political parties to have any semblance of a working parliamentary majority. This probably means that ODM-K are being courted heavily at the moment. Kalonzo, the leader of ODM-K and third in the presidential race, will probably demand nothing less than the Vice Presidency in return for his political support. This would not go down well with people who have been with Kibaki since day 1 of these campaigns.

Gerald Baraza claims that the armed forces and the para-military forces are against Mwai Kibaki:

Although on the surface Kibaki appears to be backed by the military generals, the truth of the matter is that many of our men and women in the armed forces and the para-military forces are against Kibaki’s unpopular move and they are going to join the people of Kenya in forcing Kibaki out of his self-proclaimed second term as the president of Kenya.

Daudi learns from a credible source that the Kenyan army is divided:

Planning an alternative inauguration can be interpreted as treason which would explain the security forces heavy approach (if this is true). During the press conference Raila introduced an army Major who stated that the armed forces are behind Raila. Our military is divided.
This is unverified. It is from a source who has been credible thus far.
Previous we had heard that Raila was “under the care of the army for his own safety” and that Raila would spend the night at the US Embassy due to concerns about his safety.

In “I Cry. My Beloved Country Has Been Robbed,” Thinker's Room writes:

Rumours going round are to the effect that Raila Odinga and William Ruto have been arrested, and William Ruto has been shot. Reportedly this is after ODM announced their intentions to name a parallel government, a move, I must confess, is not entirely wise given the current situation.
More as I get it.

Thinker’s Room summarizes his feelings:

I feel that the people of Kenya have been completely robbed of everything they have gained over the last 40 years. We lacked few things but at least we were generally a fair people.
I feel that the change we thought we had in 2005 was just an illusion.
I feel that all the time (3+ years), love, devotion and attention I dedicated on Mzalendo.com, sleepless nights sacrificed, hours of my time and resources have been pissed away in just a few days.
I feel that Kenyans have been robbed of something that can never be valued — their electoral process.
I feel challenged even now to respond to the question I had been asked earlier in the day — “Is there any point voting?”
I feel cheated because the same cabal that has been in power since independence is still in power.
I feel cheated that an administration rejected by the ballot can somehow find itself into the presidency.
I feel sad that Kenyans optimistically queued on the 27th thinking they could control their destiny and the very people they entrusted spat on their good faith and goodwill.
I feel angry that my house has just been stoned.
I feel angry that my friends’ shops have been looted and burnt.
I feel shocked that on comparing Kibaki to Moi, Moi comes out on top because he actually walked away when he lost.
I feel amazed that the ruling party in no way shape or form is representative of the country.
I feel insulted that people can rig the elections and believe that we are dumb enough not to see through it.

Gerald Baraza predicts the worse:

Masses of Kenyans have started uprisings across the country and it’s just a matter of time before the whole country becomes ungovernable. There is a real inspiration among the seven provinces that overwhelmingly voted for change especially among the youth. We are on the ground and we will keep you posted on the developments here!

Emotions are running high:

I’ve had to moderate comments for now and will only allow comments that are sending information about what’s going on on the ground – too busy to focus on controlling the emotions of people on both sides.

Gerald Baraza threatens to take up arms:

I am assuring President Kibaki and the Electoral Commision Chairman Mr.Samuel Kivuitu that if they rig the elections and impose Kibaki on the people of Kenya, I am going to the bush with my people and we will fight them to the bitter end. It may seem like it is ugly right now, but it is going to get uglier! We will not rest until the will of the people is respected. We will fight to the bitter end. We will die for this cause.

Farm Gal warns against bloggers inciting violence and asks the administrators of Kenyan Blog Webring to remove Gerald Baraza blog from its aggregator:

I would like to condemn the post done by one Baraza (on kbw blogroll somewhere) who called for all ODM supporters to go to war. I wrote a comment on the owner of kbw’s blog to ask him to remove it from the aggregator for inciting violence:

I thought the KBW team does not entertain that kind of rubbish….obviously not. I remember one person was kicked out for calling a certain president some sort of name. Now if the kbw team does not condemn people using KBW as a platfom to incite people to go to war, and especially from the comfort of their houses in America. Then trully the rules have changed since the last time someone was kicked out of the KBW aggragator. Correct me if am wrong!!!
Anyway, I wanted Kibaki to win and he has. I didn’t vote, and I hear that there was rigging. I don’t have proof so will not bother going into it.
Right now I pray for peace in Kenya!

Gerald Baraza responds to criticism:

Let no one lecture me on democracy and writing responsibly. I have been lectured on these vital issues by very respectable professors. I have also lectured on it. For your information, I am a student of Presidential studies. No democratic president who is responsible and peace-loving rigs an election!

It's just a matter of hours before we move in full-scale and show Kibaki what a determined people can do!

Yes, African countries are uncivilized, argues Cold Tusker:

No wonder African countries are often portrayed as being UNCIVILISED… I do not care to be politically correct… If this is how the government acts then YES, WE ARE UNCIVILISED… Just watch the news. That which gets past the censors. It would not surprise me if the police & GSU are in the middle of murdering 100s of Kenyans.
• Is 2007′s Kenya any better than 1992′s Kenya?
• Is 2007′s Kenya any better than mugabe's Zimbabwe?
I want to believe that we are BUT… I do not think so… unless someone proves me wrong. I wish I am wrong.

Mimmz defends Kikuyus. Mwai Kibaki is a Kikuyu:

I was told it's Kenya against kikuyus… I guess we are no longer Kenyans.

That we have been stacking up for ourselves for far too long. Need I remind anyone that a kikuyu has led Kenya for 5 out of the last 29 years?

That we are greedy, we are all over Kenya. Last I checked it was a free country. And next time you want to accuse kikuyus of being rich because they steal, think about the fact that they are “everywhere” as you call it. It is how they get rich. They see an opportunity and they follow it. And you? You? You get mad and remain poor.

Did you know Indians don't have shops in most central province townships? The kikuyus have learnt the art of business and have run with that knowledge. Is this the same for your hometown? if not, ask yourself what the implications of that are.

About that they have old money, who owes you an apology that they settled in the highlands because they are farmers by nature,suffered the greatest personal losses from colonization, reaped the benefits of education from the same colonialists, fought for their freedom and took back their lands with enough knowledge to farm; in a primarily agricultural economy, prospered and continued to build themselves up. How do you feel that you have been wronged by this?

Did you know there are poor kikuyus?

And that we are not all related to Kenyatta?

And taking to stoning and burning investments in your local area when aggravated and wondering why there is never any progress is not smart. Rebuilding is costly and that money could have been used for prosperity..

What is happening in Kenya, notes Mimmz is a step away from Rwanda:

Why would I post about kikuyus and apologies? Because I wish everyone would stop pretending this isn't a tribalistic situation. Actually it's a step away from Rwanda. This is not about Kibaki or his government. This is about the kikuyu tribe. Which explains why the local kikuyu has already had their business burnt and perhaps their home and is probably in hiding as we speak. let's attempt open dialogue for a change. It might improve things.

I'm ashamed at the extent of educated, I would have thought sophisticated persons, calling for or condoning or quietly supporting calls for war.

Go to war. Let it rid you of kikuyus. Then you can all sit in that country, all 41 tribes of you, and love each other. You will always trust each other. It won't be over, the liaison that is; after the common enemy is gone. Nooooo. You'll all always be friends and can get along great forever and ever.

There ends the fairy tale.

Kumekucha writes about violence in Mombasa where one blogger was beaten:

Meanwhile the usually peaceful Mombasa city has degenerated into a no-go zone in most areas. Kumekuchan Danileve was stopped by a huge violent mob thus morning in the Kisauni area of Barsheba near Mwandoni as he was looking for a Cyber café from which to send in information to Kumekucha from. They robbed him of cash and valuables but amazingly did not take his cell phone which contained amongst other things photographs of poll violence at the Coast which we will publish later.

The mob beat him badly and only stopped when they confirmed that he was NOT PNU or a Kikuyu.

He discusses Kibaki’s plan to rig the election and his “terrible miscalculations”:

Yet the signs have been there for a long time. The harmless grand father seated inside State House was asked by a BBC journalist 3 days ago whether he would hand over power peacefully if he lost the elections. His reply was in Swahili and so rude that many Kenyans reading this will still not believe that it is Mwai Kibaki. He said: Wacha Kuniuliza swali ya Upumbavu. (Stop asking me a stupid question.)

Tracing back Mr Kibaki’s actions leading up to the events of yesterday it is clear to see his thinking. He made a big issue out of appointing as many new Electoral Commissioners as possible. Just hours to the general elections he appointed new judges.

The plan was simple. To rig the elections after which he expected ODM to seek redress in the courts where he would be ready for them and besides petitions can be made to last 5 years or more by which time he would have completed his fraudulent second term.

Big time miscalculations. Kenya has changed and the State House should have seen that clearly from the way Kenyans countrywide voted. The thinking within State House is that ODM is a Luo political party with pockets of support from Kalenjins.

Where Madness Resides writes, “The battle is not over”:

The ODM has announced that it will form a parallel government and give the people their president tomorrow. I wondered at first why it was Ole Ntimama who read the statement rather than Raila himself, but when he spoke, I realised how upset he was.

I can see how. He's been working towards this most of his life, and then when he thinks it's within his grasp, someone comes along and snatches it away from him.

The Election Observation Mission of the European Union has just released a statement that calls into doubt the final result.

Kenyans are bracing themselves for the worst. My phone is full of text messages warning me not to leave my house tomorrow. I wasn't planning to.

Following the call by the opposition for a recount, Kenyan Jurist argues that there is no law allowing for a national recount:

My further thoughts after listening to the contestants;
• There is no provision in our laws for a national recount as requested by Raila. Once this door is opened we might as well tear all the laws down.
• I would like the Attorney General to come out very clearly and state what the law requires.

In another post, Kenyan Jurist notes that all sides do not seem to understand electoral laws:

Anyway, it is now becoming clear to me that neither the ECK officials. candidates nor their agents, including some lawyers of experience, have familiarised themselves with the provisions of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Rules which govern the conduct of elections. If they had, some of these problems would have been avoided.
• The only was to challenge an election or the result of an election is through and election petition filed in the manner provided by the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act. The election process cannot be stopped or stayed in any manner.
When the rules were amended, it was contemplated that the polling station was to be the focal point of all matter concerning counting. The candidates agents would then assume an important position in ensuring that all the votes cast were valid and properly counted. Furthermore, this would reduce the inherent problems in counting a large number of ballots from the whole constituency. Notwithstanding allegations of rigging, I think the party's must take some responsibility for failure to invoke the proper process. Writing letters or press statements while the ECK is delivering the results is neither appropriate nor proper. I wonder why parties have legal advisers.
While I understand that the fact that there has been an increase in the number of voters and candidates, they has been clearly a failure of candidates agents and some ECK officials to take their work seriously. Similarly, the ECK has failed to clearly inform or educate the public on the proper legal process that is applicable to the situation such as one we face.

  • Pingback: Why the Internet Matters in Africa | White African

  • http://cbrayton.wordpress.com/2007/12/31/kenya-recounting-the-votes-would-undermine-democratic-institutions/ CB

    What I find fascinating is the role of the US Ambassador (a career diplomat, not a Bush Ranger, I understand) in all this. The New York Times reports he claims to have tried to prevail on the ECK to allow an audit of the results, but to no avail, as 500 Hats reports.

    But then you have the official State Dept. position:

    “The United States congratulates the winners and is calling for calm, and for Kenyans to abide by the results declared by the election commission. We support the commission’s decision,” said spokesman Robert McInturff. He reiterated a State Department statement from Saturday that asked Kenyans “to reject violence and respect the rule of law.” That’s what the International Republican Institute’s observer mission said, too.

    The EU observer mission’s statement, however, seems to suggest that it is the election authority that ought to respect the rule of law:

    “It is vital that the entire election process meets the expectations of the Kenyan electorate.”

    The burden is on the people to respect the authority of the state. The burden is on the state to meet the expectations of the people.

    What you have here, apparently, is the following: the local precinct reports X votes for Quimby and the ECK then “reads off its computer screens” — equipment donated by USAID, through one of its Geek Corps-like fronts, as part of an initative to “increase the efficiency of the election process through technnology!” — that the local precinct is reporting X+5,000 votes for Quimby.

    Election results were sent in to the ECK by SMS and e-mail — apparently over commercial networks. I have been trying to find explanations of why such a procedure is not insanely insecure, from a technical standpoint, but have not managed to yet.

    In short: Despite these protestations of being shocked! shocked! at the shortcomings of the process, State advises Kenyans to shut up and live with it. Predictable result: Justified or not, everyone is pretty much going to think we (the US) did it, and that our deniability story is not so very plausible.

    Another shining moment in U.S. public diplomacy. When the State Dept. picks up the GVO feed for one of its embassy Web sites — what is GVO’s relationship with State, anyway? — I hope they make a note of that.

  • Pingback: The Purple Corner » Blog Archive » Elections , Liberté d'expression et les NTIC

  • Pingback: Kenyan Elections: What the Bloggers are Saying… - AfricanLoft

  • http://yahoo.com erik mkenya by raila

    what is happenning in kenya? kenyans feel bad when their democracy is taken away from them & then u want to keep quiet!!!!kenyans choose a leader who they wanted not someone they didnt choose.kibaki should save kenyans & get out of state house before something bad happens to him.let me be clear about this KENYAS WILL NOT REST TILL HE GETS OUT OF THAT SEAT!

  • http:bazungubucks.blogspot.com John Powers

    Thanks for your great service in these roundups! I’ve been recommending them as a great source for gaining context in this developing story. You indeed deserve kudos.

  • easywig

    I would like to inform the world that Kenya my country is one of the most beautiful places in the World.However
    the violence being witnessed is as a result of Kenyans feeling cheated.I believe that all the 42 tribes have a right as Kenyans but the Kikuyus believe that they are superior than the rest.If KIBAKI is a man of integrity then he would know what to do.I wonder how the “president” would rule this country.Does the president know that innocent Kikuyus are being killed because of his actions,Does he know that all this violence is because of him being in office by force,In this day and era you cannot force yourself on people,People like Mungatana,Karua,Kiunjuri,Kalonzo and Mutula Kilonzo are the most selfish people on the face of the earth.Kenyans let us pray for our country.

  • awuye

    hello this is awuye from uganda i repeat the safety of kenya is tp our advantage the pple of kenya elected their leader ,the eck of kenya is the trouble causer to all this the fuel prices have gone up from 2000 to 16ooo please mr kibaki this is a coup there is no difference btn you and amin ,respect democracy

  • http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?Kenya Andrius Kulikauskas

    Our online laboratory, Minciu Sodas, has many participants in Kenya and so we are organizing small projects to help http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onereachinganother/message/94 We’re also getting some reports and are working to provide more. Please let us know what would be useful and how we might work together. We’ll be engaging refugees and travellers in Kampala, Uganda and likely Arusha, Tanzania and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and be able to report that. We’re also considering translating short texts into Kiswahili about nonviolent action and overcoming ethnic strife. Please join us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/onereachinganother/ send a blank message to onereachinganother-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

  • DHAVAL

    political gain making loss of life also econoic going to be down. spoiling of localiti also make gap between local to foreigner

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site