Kenya denies sponsoring post-election violence

The Kenyan government sanctioned violence following last December’s disputed presidential elections, the BBC alleged on Wednesday, but Nairobi strongly denied the claims.

The BBC quoted sources alleging that meetings were held at the official residence of President Mwai Kibaki between a banned militia group, the Mungiki, and high-ranking government figures.

The aim, the BBC said, was to hire the militia as a defence force in the Rift Valley to protect the president’s Kikuyu community.

The government dismissed the allegations as “preposterous”.

“No such meetings took place at State House or any government office,” government spokesperson Alfred Mutua told the BBC.

The spokesperson said the government had cracked down on the Mungiki over the past year and had arrested their leaders.

“There’s no way the president or any government official would meet openly or even in darkness with the Mungiki,” he said.

The BBC said its source was a member of the Kikuyu tribe who had gone into hiding after receiving death threats.

He alleged: “Three members of the gang met at State House… and after the elections and the violence the militias were called again and were given a duty to defend the Kikuyu in Rift Valley, and we know they were there in numbers.”

On January 25, two towns in the Rift Valley, Nakuru and Naivasha, were the scene of some of the worst post-election violence carried out by machete-wielding gangs.

Witnesses told the BBC that before the violence, non-Kikuyu homes were marked to be attacked.

The report said sources within the Mungiki had told the BBC that a renegade part of the militia was behind the violence.

The report also quoted a police officer who was on duty at the time of the violence who said he saw signs of state complicity.

He alleges that shortly before the violence in Nakuru, police officers were ordered not to stop a convoy of minibus taxis, called matatus, packed with men when they arrived at police checkpoints.

But spokesperson Mutua said the government ordered the military to deal swiftly with the Kikuyu youth who had tried to take the law into their own hands.

“The Kenyan government … used helicopters to drive them away, arrested them and actually got to kill quite a few of them torching houses,” he said. “The government stamped on them immediately.”

Power-sharing deal

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Parliament is due to convene on Thursday to start discussions aimed at enacting into law a landmark power-sharing deal designed to end a deadly post-election crisis.

The country’s 10th Parliament was opened on January 15 at the height of political violence and tribal killings that left more than 1 000 dead following the disputed December 27 presidential election.

After weeks of mediation led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan, Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga — who charges the incumbent rigged his way to re-election — struck a deal on February 28.

The agreement broke the deadlock by granting the opposition a position of prime minister — which has yet to be formally created — but both sides are still involved in intense negotiations on issues such as land reform. — AFP

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