Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Kenya news updates

The big news from Kenya today is that ODM has postponed the million person protest/march in Uhuru Park after violence started to break out en route. The Nation has reported that almost every major road into Nairobi was blocked by security forces. The Nation, as well as - the BBC and wanjuguna all report that the protest will be rescheduled for tomorrow, but it is unclear how the situation will be different.

Stalemate At The Top

At the top, more and more officials inside and outside of Kenya are calling for probes into the vote tallying process, including various foreign diplomats,senior opposition leaders, and most interestingly the Kenyan Attorney general Amos Wako. However, as I argued yesterday, such a retally could be problematic due to problems reported with the official Form 16 (the vote reporting sheet) in a number of constituencies. Kenyanjurist points out the deeper problem with this kind of independent review is that it is unclear what the next step would necessarily be:

The problem with [tally by an independent body] is that it begs the question to what end. If he has already concluded that the court process is the only one that can reverse the decision of the ECK in declaring the election result then what is the need for having an independent verification without a remedy. What would happen it if found that the tallies and election material have been tampered with to the extent that it sould be difficult to know the winner of the election. Would the body declare a fresh election? What would happen if the independent verification revealed that the ODM candidate actually won the election. Would such an body declare the person president? Independent verification of the tallies and indeed the audit of the entire election process must be part of a larger political settlement.

The Standard reports that Raila has revised his conditions for a political settlement, saying now that he will take part in an interim unity government, with the understanding that the main role of such a government would be to prepare for a new presidential election, to be held in three months. While this is one of the more innovative political solutions that I've heard so far, it leaves a lot of questions wide open, such as how would further rigging claims and violence be prevented in a rerun of the election?

Perspectives from the Ground

The BBC has a running update of events in Kenya from its correspondents throughout the country, focusing on Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, and areas along the Ugandan border.

Kenya Imagine compiles the "conventional wisdom" currently held by many PNU supporters- while not terribly systematic, I imagine that if you did survey interviews of PNU supporters throughout the country, you would indeed find a lot of convergence. This offers amazing insight into how polarization can become self-reinforcing and create belief traps- I would imagine you would find a similar amount of homogeneity in how ODM supporters describe the situation.

The Guardian has a harrowing set of interviews with both survivors and perpetrators from the church burning in Eldoret. A must read.

IRIN looks at the flipside of the violence in Eldoret, with a story cooperation and solidarity across ethnic lines.

Finally, White African has a comprehensive list of bloggers covering events in Kenya (many of whom I have been drawing on in my daily updates)-especially important now that Kenyanpundit has headed back to South Africa, where she currently lives.


A response to recent comments from Ameila and Cyrus can be found here.

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