Kenya: ODM Calls Fresh Round of Protests
The Nation (Nairobi)
20 January 2008
Posted to the web 20 January 2008
The Orange Democratic Party has retreated from a promise made only hours before and announced a new round of mass action to protest against the disputed presidential election results.
This time the protests would also include economic sabotage of companies whose directors are perceived to be close allies of President Kibaki.
The announcement came on a day when youths armed with spears, bows, arrows and machetes went on the rampage in areas surrounding Eldoret town and burnt houses in broad daylight.
Kipkelion District Commissioner Abdi Halake said that six people were killed and 50 houses burnt in the area.
A Catholic priest in the district had sent out a distress call to the police after the monastery he runs was surrounded by armed youths.
“As I speak to you, I can see about 1,500 people armed with bows, arrows and spears,” Fr Dominic Vincent Nkoyoyo told the Sunday Nation.
The priest said that the monastery had received threats of attack by people who said they were unhappy about the 600 displaced people camped there.
From State House Nairobi, President Kibaki last night said that no form of violence against innocent Kenyans will be tolerated. The Head of State stressed that security of the country was paramount and the government will continue beefing up security in areas facing unrest to ensure the lives of wananchi and their property are protected.
He was meeting a European Union delegation, which had earlier held talks with ODM leader Raila Odinga.
While supporting the Kofi Annan-led initiative of eminent persons, European Union Commissioner Louis Michel said the solution to Kenya’s political problem must come from Kenyans themselves, a statement from PPS said.
Mr Michel noted that although the European parliament passed a resolution that was not favourable to the government, the European Union would not take any precipitating action against Kenya but would wait for the outcome of dialogue.
President Kibaki expressed his willingness to dialogue in addressing the current political situation.
The violence that has rocked the country started soon after the announcement of the results of the December 27 presidential election, which ODM says were rigged in favour of Mr Kibaki.
Fr Nkoyoyo told the Sunday Nation that four more violence victims were brought in for treatment. All appeared to have been attacked with arrows.
ODM’s fresh call for mass action also came three days ahead of the expected arrival of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, who has been detailed by the African Union to mediate between President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.
In Nairobi, the opposition party’s officials said they would hold inter-denominational funeral services tomorrow for their supporters who died during the post-election violence in Kisumu.
A follow-up one would be held in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Friday would be the national day of prayers to commemorate all the “martyrs who have given their lives in the peaceful struggle for democracy, the rule of law and the rejection of the December 27 presidential election results.” And Thursday would be the day of countrywide peace rallies.
Police say that 510 people have died in the violence across the country, which has also left more than 250,000 displaced and property worth billions looted, torched or destroyed.
Announcing plans to sabotage selected companies, ODM chairman Henry Kosgey said: “We would like to formally inaugurate our campaign for economic boycott directed at hardline members of the clique around Mr Kibaki. These individuals are using the wealth they have created from our open democratic system to undermine the rule of law and democracy in Kenya.”
Yesterday’s statement came a day after Mr Odinga denied that his party planned any economic sabotage to force President Kibaki to the negotiation table under the auspices of international mediators.
Mr Odinga had spoken after a meeting with businessmen from the Mount Kenya region and top brass of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions.
“Equity Bank is everywhere helping the poor in the process of economic empowerment,” Mr Odinga had been quoted as saying.
“It is foolhardy to tie it to an individual when we know shareholders include international bodies and countries like the United States.”