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Old 01-07-2008   #1
Rex Brynen
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Default post-election Kenya

NAKURU, Kenya — Kenya’s privileged tribe is on the run.
By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN
New York Times
January 7, 2008

Quote:
Over the past few days, tens of thousands of Kikuyus, the tribe of Kenya’s president, have packed into heavily guarded buses to flee the western part of the country because of ethnic violence. On Sunday, endless convoys of buses — some with their windshields smashed by rocks — crawled across a landscape of scorched homes and empty farms.

It is nothing short of a mass exodus. The tribe that has dominated business and politics in Kenya since independence in 1963 is now being chased off its land by machete-wielding mobs made up of members of other tribes furious about the Dec. 27 election, which Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, won under dubious circumstances. In some places, Kikuyus have been hunted down with bows and arrows.

...

The election — and the unresolved battle about who won — has ignited old tensions in Kenya, which in a week and a half has gone from being one of Africa’s most promising countries to another equatorial trouble zone.
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Old 01-07-2008   #2
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Default Letter from Kenya

This an email I received from a Kenyan friend of mine:

"Dear Carl,
>> Greetings.Your perception about kenya was right.We had always embraced peace untill after the elections were rigged.
>> In the past 6 days i have seen what i failed to see in Congo.
>> I have witnessed people being hacked to death.Tribes turning against other tribes.
>> I have witnessed mothers carrying their babies on thier backs being shot in cold blood.
>> The GSU(general service unit) a faction of Kenya police has been shooting youngmen and ladies unselectively.
>> The scenes that i have seen in the Kisumu provincial Hospital Morgue are indeed ugly and disturbing.The akwardly pilled dead bodies,the gunshot wounds in them and the stinking blood that had oozed from their bodies onto the morgues floor are indeed sad memories.
>> I saw much more that i can not be able to expalin in email.
>> The shopping malls too have not been spared,gas stations have been burned down,pharmacies and all buildings belonging to particular tribes are no more.
>> The effects of clinging to power by barbaric means are indeed costing the african people.This act is robbing the africans thier democratic rights.its maiming their brothers and sisters.Their sons and fathers are being killed for defending their rights.
>> Indeed poor governance in african countries is root cause of evil.
>> Best Regards,"

Perhaps this is bigger than the newspapers are letting on.
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Old 01-07-2008   #3
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Originally Posted by carl View Post
Perhaps this is bigger than the newspapers are letting on.
There's a decent blog at Allafrica from locals and expats. Adds that typical missing element from news reports.

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Like many Kenyans I watched with disbelief as my country slide into violence in the past week. One thing that shocked everyone was the speed at which things escalated.

If you had told anyone one week ago as they stood in those long lines to vote that just seven days later the country would reeling from being plunged into violence, supermarkets would be forced to shut and there would be long queues for basics such as bread...

...that a church with mainly women and children would be burnt to the ground killing around 30, most people would have thought you were mad.

So what are people doing? One important thing to repeat is that no one expected this and therefore, understandably, no one had a contingency plan in place for the country going up in flames. However, once the shock subsided, Kenyans swung into action.

However, there was one big problem, communication. The severe lack of mobile phone airtime vouchers meant that information could not flow up from the ground. Many of us in Nairobi and other urban areas were running around looking for airtime vouchers which we can send directly to another mobile phone enabling them to make calls and send text. Another problem was that as these CBOs are, as the name suggests, embedded in their community, many of them were caught up in the violence and were displaced themselves.
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Old 01-09-2008   #4
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CSIS, 8 Jan 08: Kenya in Crisis
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.....The way out of the crisis will ultimately depend on Kenya’s political class recognizing what civil society and the diplomatic community has made clear—that Kenya is indeed at the proverbial fork in the road. One fork leads to continued chaos and the loss of much of what the country has gained since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1992, and especially since the end of the Moi regime in 2002. The other fork leads to the consolidation of democracy, renewed economic development, and the continued emergence of Kenya as arguably the most significant country in Africa after South Africa and possibly Nigeria. As the anchor state of the region of greater Eastern Africa, Kenya matters. A stable and prosperous Kenya raises the prospects for peace and development in Uganda, Rwanda, Eastern Congo, and southern Sudan. Kenyans are being tested to the limit by the current crisis, yet if a deal can be reached, including with minimal constitutional reforms, Kenyans may in 10 years look back on the events of the first week of January 2008 as the time when their country turned the corner and became an example for the rest of Africa.
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Old 01-22-2008   #5
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Default Kenya in Crisis

I have to disagree with the basic assertion that the crisis in Kenya is simply the result of tribalism and corrupt politics. They are key factors and precipitated the current social unrest. However, there are far more fundamental and intractable issues at play and we over-simplify the debate at our peril.

I have read quite a few pieces on the crisis in the international media, particularly the NYT and WP. I have found them all wanting.

I suggest a visit to Richard Dowden at the Royal African Society's website, http://www.royalafricansociety.org/

But I have been most impressed by an excellent Op-Ed piece in 08 Jan The Nation, a Kenyan daily newspaper. It is at http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynati...&newsid=114132

Like the author of the op-ed piece, Macharia Gaitho, I am not surprised at the crisis in Kenya, it's been a long time coming, but the factors have been in place for many years. What we are witnessing is a concatenation of events, most beyond the control of Kibaki, Odinga or any current leader. If anyone is interested to know on what authority I speak and to read my argument in its entirety, it is laid out at my overly-pretentious and painfully wordy blogsite Mars and Aesculapius, Kleptocracy in Crisis.

I am happy to defend my position with anyone who reads this and takes issue with all or part.

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-22-2008 at 01:01 PM. Reason: Edited content, added link.
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Old 01-22-2008   #6
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Hey Barnsley,

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Originally Posted by Barnsley View Post
I have to disagree with the basic assertion that the crisis in Kenya is simply the result of tribalism and corrupt politics. They are key factors and precipitated the current social unrest...

...I am not surprised at the crisis in Kenya, it's been a long time coming, but the factors have been in place for many years. What we are witnessing is a concatenation of events, most beyond the control of Kibaki, Odinga or any current leader.
Welcome to the SWC ! Thanks for the links and your versions. They will lend to broader discussions in the Africa thread.

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Originally Posted by Barnsley View Post
If anyone is interested to know on what authority I speak and to read my argument in its entirety, it is laid out at my overly-pretentious and painfully wordy blogsite Mars and Aesculapius Kleptocracy in Crisis[/URL].
Well..That's indeed a bold first post

Taking a quick gander at your User Profile certainly leaves a lot in question. I'd recommend going here and introducing yourself versus asking Council Members to visit your blog. Perhaps once we've been sufficiently smothered in discussion, we'll gain an appreciation for your advice and experience.

Regards, Stan
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Old 01-22-2008   #7
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Default Crisis in Kenya

Well done Stan!
I take your point
you may have gathered
that I am pretty inexperienced in the blogosphere
but am keen to learn
Its 6pm here in Lira northern uganda
red hot and time for me to cook dinner
I will get around to
elaborating on my Kenya argument later
I gather its freezing in the US
Gosh! I miss it!!
bob
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Old 01-22-2008   #8
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Originally Posted by Barnsley View Post
Well done Stan!
I take your point you may have gathered that I am pretty inexperienced in the blogosphere but am keen to learn Its 6pm here in Lira northern uganda red hot and time for me to cook dinner I will get around to elaborating on my Kenya argument later I gather its freezing in the US Gosh! I miss it!!
bob
Bob,
All I asked you to do was respect the members herein and provide an otherwise simple introduction. I did not read your blog, but did scan your links.

I spent more than a decade working in Sub-Sahara (7 countries). BTW, I live in Estonia (it says so right under my picture) and it's 1843 and fairly colder than Uganda

As time permits you, please introduce yourself.

Regards, Stan
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Old 01-22-2008   #9
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Default Out of tune

Vernacular music has also been used to raise ethnic tensions.

Quote:
Nairobi: Inflammatory statements and songs broadcast on vernacular radio stations and at party rallies, text messages, emails, posters and leaflets have all contributed to post-electoral violence in Kenya, according to analysts.

While the mainstream media, both English and Swahili, have been praised for their even-handedness, vernacular radio broadcasts have been of particular concern, given the role of Kigali's Radio-Télévision Libre des Mille Collines in inciting people to slaughter their neighbours in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Handa heard Kalenjin callers on Kass FM making negative comments about other ethnic groups, who they call "settlers", in their traditional homeland, Rift Valley Province.

"You hear cases of 'Let's reclaim our land. Let's reclaim our birthright'. Let's claim our land means you want to evict people [other ethnic communities] from the place," said Handa.

...references to the need for "people of the milk" to "cut grass" and complaints that the mongoose has come and "stolen our chicken" The Kalenjin call themselves people of the milk because they are pastoralists by tradition and the mongoose is a reference to Kikuyus who have bought land in Rift Valley...

a caller emphasised the need to "get rid of weeds", which could be interpreted as a reference to non-Kalenjin ethnic groups.

...two Kikuyu stations, Kameme and Inooro, played songs "talking very badly about beasts from the west", a veiled reference to opposition leader Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) colleagues, who come from western Kenya, said Handa. Radio Lake Victoria played a Luo-language song by DO Misiani, which referred to "the leadership of baboons".
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Old 01-23-2008   #10
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Jedburgh,

Thanks for the explanation. Can you please also edit my posts to make me sound a bit more intelligent? I'd like to be a bit more Kissingeresque, but I'm afraid I'm a bit more like Muskie.

In an attempt to get the thread back on topic, I would like to ask all of you what you do if you could design a project or intervention to address the conflict in Kenya. Where would you start? Reconciliation? Root causes of poverty? Political reform?
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Old 01-23-2008   #11
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Default The Rot in Kenya's Politics

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Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
In an attempt to get the thread back on topic, I would like to ask all of you what you do if you could design a project or intervention to address the conflict in Kenya. Where would you start? Reconciliation? Root causes of poverty? Political reform?
There's an interesting short publication by Anne Applebaum at the American Enterprise Institute regarding Kenya's problem and a potential fix. I don't agree with 'mere' bad politics being the sole problem while ignoring the myriad of tribal conflicts in the region over far less, and having watched aid programs with 'strings attached' makes me wonder what that would accomplish, if anything.

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What was most striking to me about the violence in Kenya in recent weeks was not how much the country resembles Rwanda but, rather, how much it resembles, say, Ukraine in 2004 or South Korea in the 1980s. Perhaps the real story here is not, as one headline had it, about "The Demons That Still Haunt Africa" but about how Africa is no different from anywhere else.

As any student of revolution knows, popular uprisings generally take place not in the poorest countries but in those that have recently grown richer.

Thus there is nothing mysterious about the anger or the unrest, nothing that requires more Live Aid concerts or global outpourings of emotion, nothing especially "African" about Kenya's problems at all. Kenya needs a cleaner, more democratic, more rule-abiding government; it needs to eliminate the licenses and regulations that create opportunities for bribery; it needs to apply the law equally to all citizens.

The West can help Kenya change these things by encouraging these values through the nature of the aid it gives and the strings attached to that aid.

Ultimately, though, Kenya's political elite will have to decide what kind of country they want their children to live in. Yes, there are cultural factors, and, yes, Kenya is unique, but in the end politics, not culture, lies at the heart of the country's current problems.
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Old 01-23-2008   #12
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Stan,

Interesting connection between Kenya and Ukraine in 2004. The author writes "how Africa is no different than anywhere else". I understand her point, that on some surface levels, there are similarities (economic growth, corrupt government, election fraud, popular uprising). However, the Ukrainian revolution didn't break out into widespread violence. No question, the povery level and desperation is not comparable. And culturally and historically, there aren't too many similarities that I can point to.

Other than saying that people of both countries are frustrated w/corrupt and inefficient governments (politicians), there isn't a lot else that's very similar.

What's your perspective, having spent significant chunks of time in both Eastern Europe/NIS and Africa?
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Old 01-23-2008   #13
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Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
Stan,

Interesting connection between Kenya and Ukraine in 2004. The author writes "how Africa is no different than anywhere else". I understand her point, that on some surface levels, there are similarities (economic growth, corrupt government, election fraud, popular uprising). However, the Ukrainian revolution didn't break out into widespread violence. No question, the povery level and desperation is not comparable. And culturally and historically, there aren't too many similarities that I can point to.

Other than saying that people of both countries are frustrated w/corrupt and inefficient governments (politicians), there isn't a lot else that's very similar.

What's your perspective, having spent significant chunks of time in both Eastern Europe/NIS and Africa?
Eric,
I’ll start by saying I like Anne’s “thinking out of the box” style and appreciate she’s been around Eastern Europe a long time as an investigative journalist. I don’t agree with her current train of thought, but decided to post it because of your unique position with USAID and physical location, and my background in Sub-Sahara.

I agree, the similarities are shallow; social and political upheaval in Africa is little more than a daily occurrence. Estonia’s revolution was in fact a ‘singing revolution’ with no violence or political agenda whatsoever. Much like The Ukraine, Estonians just wanted the Soviets out and this has little to do with ‘on the edge of your seat’ tribal conflict and/or differences.

There’s reference made to the violent uprising being seemingly preplanned because it “seemed as spontaneous as it was shocking, with machete-wielding mobs hacking people to death and burning women and children alive in a country that was celebrated as one of Africa’s most stable.” I think had the author been in Goma in 1994 for 40 days, she’d look at the 560 deaths as a mere drop in the bucket and would also better appreciate just how fast tribal related violence ‘fires up’.

I was interested in your view regarding this ‘carrot’ with strings attached approach. It has never worked with any great success when greed and corruption come into play. Why would it then work so much better in Kenya ?
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Old 01-24-2008   #14
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Stan,

The article she refers to is about civil society organizations calling for donors to withhold aid until Kenya makes certain reforms. That's more like stick and carrot. Interestingly, the Catholic church opposed this, saying that reconciliation and healing will take time and the donors shouldn't given conditions to the government.

The problem with withholding aid is that aid becomes not a carrot (strings or not), but a weapon. for that, there are economic sanctions and other measures. Reminds me of the situation in Palestinian Territories after Hamas won the election. It was a legitimate election by the reports I read. Holding back aid might have hurt Hamas, but it probably hurt the Palestinian people more.

Anyway, getting back to the carrot with strings. The carrot always has strings. You never get something for nothing, eh. I think aid agencies would like the carrot to be tied to a string which is tied to a stick which is leading the donkey forward. You give aid and assistance with the understanding that the government will participate, that it will make certain changes, that it will move forward.

As for greed and corruption, donor money is hard to get. There are way too many easier ways to make money. But, I think many governments have become quite adept at speaking the speak and attracting donor money, then foot-dragging, confusing things, using rhetoric in place of action, etc. Or use donor money to fund government services or programs and then divert that money to other purposes (Ahem, Ethiopia). Lastly, i would also say donors are often hesitant to face corruption head on, so you see a lot of anti-corruption projects focused on civil society monitoring and media (Ahem, Millenium Challenge Corporation, or MCC).

Okay, I've probably said way too much....and now everybody knows my secret identity (batman is bruce wayne...or perhaps more appropriately, Robin is...well, Robin, I guess. Poor kid.)

Eric
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Old 01-24-2008   #15
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Eric,
That's the way I understood the article, but it seems that attempts to pressure the African government by "starving out the population" would result in even further violent conditions -- as the pres gnaws on his tenderloin with sauce béarnaise watching televised reports of starving people

Regarding greed and corruption, I was thinking like a Zairian for a second: With the arrival of goods at the airport. There's obviously 'customs duties' and damaged crates and otherwise (ahem) bureaucratic procedures to follow. Obviously, Kenya's elite are not all that concerned about transparency, and could easily blame missing donations on the current situation - Basically what Zaire did way back when.

Regards, Stan

PS. I stopped watchin' Batman when they replace the Joker, Jack Nicholson
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Old 02-01-2008   #16
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Default Why Tribal Will Never Be Federal

Quote:
Kenya and Kofi Annan
It is disheartening to hear that formal talks between Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga were suspended on Thursday following the violent death of opposition lawmaker David Too. The talks began Wednesday and were aimed at reconciliation following tumultuous elections in December. From the outset, however, we have been skeptical of the mediation process, as it falls under the tutelage of Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations whose disastrous leadership as head of United Nations peacekeeping operations (where he failed to take any action to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide) gives reason for pause.

Mr. Annan has said he believes the immediate political crisis could be solved "within a week," but this is now highly unlikely, considering that neither side offered significant compromises before talks began. Moreover, Mr. Too's death follows Tuesday's fatal shooting of Mugabe Were, another member of parliament belonging to Mr. Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).

Since the results of the Dec. 27 election were announced, supporters of ODM have formed roving bands that are attacking members of the Kikuyu, Mr. Kibaki's ethnic group. Nearly 900 people have been killed and more than 250,000 have been displaced following a vote that international observers said lacked transparency. On Dec. 30, Mr. Kibaki was sworn into his second term less than an hour after the surprising election results were made public. Early tallies had suggested Mr. Odinga would win, but after a series of apparent voting irregularities, Mr. Kibaki won by 200,000 votes.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected in Nairobi today to assist the Panel of Eminent African Persons under Mr. Annan. Ghana President John Kufuor, chairman of the African Union, failed to broker a peace agreement in January[/QUOTE]

What is going on in Kenya offers a larger lesson for those who tribalism as a substitute for states rights in a setting like Iraq. Kenya's splits are more complex but are nonetheless purely ethnic versus the tribal, ethnic, and religious schisms we deal with in Iraq.

Ethnic/political driven corruption destroyed the Congo under Mobutu, who with western backing was able to keep a lid on things until the end of the Cold War when that western backing fragmented. Kenya has over the past 4 decades followed a similar but less apparent glide path with political corruption fueled by ethnic divisions. Kenya's geostrategic role has made it an important partner to the US and the West in general; like the Congo/Zaire that relationship has helped offset these problems but they have been there since Kenyatta's days.

Final thought is you have to be very careful to not dismiss such conflicts as just an another ethnic blood bath in Africa because in such a tribally-based society, ethnicity is the basis for politics. Cultural, ethnic, and racial differences are often political in their effect simply because they define who has power and who does not. Such differences cannot be erased by decree but they can be mitigated over time through communication and education. However when large scale eruptions such as this one occur, the effects are long lasting, self-sustaining, and unfortunately reinforcing.

Best

Tom
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Old 02-01-2008   #17
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Default Kagame Is Probably Right

At the AU Summit

Quote:
Kenya vows tougher crackdown

Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the Reuters news agency that Kenya's Army might have to take over before things get worse. "I know that it is not fashionable and right for the armies to get involved in such a political situation," he said. "But in situations where institutions have lost control, I wouldn't mind such a solution."
The key question is of course can the Army if put in such a role maintain its balance and not fragment. I am not up on the Kenyan military enough to make that call.

Tom
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Old 02-01-2008   #18
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Default preventive diplomacy in Kenya

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Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected in Nairobi today to assist the Panel of Eminent African Persons under Mr. Annan. Ghana President John Kufuor, chairman of the African Union, failed to broker a peace agreement in January
I was just thinking about all this when Tom posted (and this is a short post of my own, since I need to run to teach class).

It remains to be seen whether Ki-moon, Annan, and the AU can move the parties to a political agreement that would deescalate the current situation, but I think this is a clear case where the oft-maligned UN and AU have potential for conflict prevention (or, more accurately, conflict deescalation) that others don't.

The rest of the international community has been publicly supportive, but one hopes that local embassies and HQS can coordinate an effective common front to support the primary mediators. This was done well in support of the peace process in Mozambique in 1992-94, and done poorly--and with tragic consequences--in Angola in 1992 and Rwanda prior to the genocide.

Also, there is some discussion of the Kenya crisis and AFRICOM on Abu Muqawama.
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Old 02-01-2008   #19
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From what little I know about the Kenyan military, it is dominated by Kalenjin, Maasai, and other "minority" officers, a holdover from the Moi regime --- that is, those who are primarily in opposition to the Kibaki government. There were occasional rumors during Kibaki's tenure that Kalenjin officers would launch a coup against Kibaki, but this never occurred and thusfar the Army has remained firmly on the side of the government.
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Old 02-22-2008   #20
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ICG, 21 Feb 08: Kenya in Crisis
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.....The current uneasy calm in Kenya should not be misunderstood as a return to normalcy. The protracted political crisis has deep roots and could easily lead to renewed extreme violence. More is at stake than the collapse of Kenya itself. Kenya is the platform for relief operations in Somalia and Sudan, a haven for refugees from throughout the region, a regional entrepot, and a key anchor for long-term stabilisation of Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Paralysis of its infrastructure would deprive those countries of access to basic commodities, reduce trade opportunities, hamper foreign investment and see economic growth crippled. The quicker a comprehensive solution to the crisis in Kenya is found, the better the prospects will be for the entire region. The alternative – a collapsed economy, the evisceration of the democratic process and ethnic and territorial conflict – would have severe consequences for the whole of east Africa, and well beyond.
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