Kenya: No Retreat, Says ODM At Service
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
22 January 2008
Posted to the web 22 January 2008
John Oywa, Peter Atsiaya, Allan Kisia and Joel Okwayo
An emotional Mr Raila Odinga flew to his violence-battered hometown of Kisumu and declared that nothing would deter Kenyans from their quest for justice.
Making his first visit to the lakeside town since the post-election violence broke out across the country after President Kibaki’s disputed re-election, Raila ran into thousands of equally emotional supporters, many of who broke down and wept.
Pall-bearers carry caskets bearing bodies at the Moi Stadium, Kisumu, during a funeral service for victims of police brutality. Picture by James Keyi
The Lang’ata MP, who was accompanied by ODM Pentagon members, Mr Musalia Mudavadi and Mr William Ruto, fought back tears as he viewed bodies of some of the more than 100 people killed in the town.
He then addressed an ecumenical prayer service at the Moi Stadium for those killed in the region.
“These people killed by (State) agents are the heroes of this country. They died while demanding justice,” said Raila as he wiped tears with a white handkerchief.
He said ODM would file a case of crimes against humanity against President Kibaki at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
The killings by police across, he claimed, had been well planned by the Government.
Overwhelmed by the presence of church leaders and the victims’ relatives, Raila stared into the sky for seconds then declared: “Our people are being killed like dogs, but no amount of bullets and intimidation will stop us from getting back the seat we won during the elections.”
He told the crowd that filled the 30,000-capacity stadium to keep up the fight until Kibaki vacated State House “for its rightful owners”.
At one stage, silence fell on the stadium when Raila broke into a song: “Sitarudi nyuma milele”. And the crowd roared back in support.
A crowd at the funeral service for the people killed in post-election violence, on Monday. Mr Raila Odinga and other ODM leaders attended the prayers at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
As the cries reached a crescendo, Raila appeared overwhelmed by the demands and asked to be given one of the placards that had a touching message.
He temporarily held the placard aloft before passing it over to Kisumu Town West MP, Mr John Olago Aluoch.
Raila told ODM supporters in Nyanza to return to the streets on Thursday to press for Kibaki’s resignation.
“We are resuming mass action on Thursday. The fight continues,” he thundered.
The thousands of people who braved the afternoon sweltering heat and swirling dust had been waiting for Raila since 8am.
When the Lang’ata MP arrived shortly after noon, they rushed to meet him, causing a security scare.
Many could be heard crying that Raila had grown thin. “Ma ekak jogi chando wuodwa. Ose mana dhero kod juma achiel yawa! (This is how these people are persecuting our son. He is already thin).
Then they began to sing freedom songs. “Baba Yetu Raila Odinga, Tawala Kenya, Tawala! “No Raila, No Peace! No Raila, No schooling! We Don’t Want Peace! We Want Justice! And Kibaki Must Go!”
They also turned their anger at Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, whom they accused of sending soldiers to Kenya to kill ODM supporters.
“Museveni’s soldiers are killing our people!” they chanted.
Raila asked the Luo to live peacefully with their Kisii neighbours, saying the Abagusii community had overwhelmingly voted for him, but their votes “had been stolen by President Kibaki”.
“We should have seven of the 10 parliamentary seats in Kisii, but Kibaki men stole the votes and we only got four. The Kisii are our people. We must not touch them,” he said.
Raila said he was ready to talk to Kibaki, but only in the presence of an international mediator.
“Kibaki lost the elections and must vacate State House now. He is illegally sitting there,” he said.
Earlier, Ruto and Mudavadi had worked up the crowds when they said they had prepared two questions for the former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, who is set to chair mediation talks.
“We will ask Mr Annan why Kibaki has not gone back to Othaya after losing the presidential elections. We will also ask why Raila’s swearing-in ceremony as the Fourth President of the Republic of Kenya has been delayed.”
Ruto said: “We shall also ask Mr Annan why we cannot go for repeat elections if some people are doubting that Raila did, indeed, win.”
Said he: “Our position is clear. Kibaki cannot be president by force because no amount of guns will keep him in power.”
Ruto accused Kibaki and his Cabinet of playing politics as the country burned.
“They are behaving as if nothing is happening, yet thousands of people have been killed, injured or lost their homes,” he said.
Mudavadi said Kibaki’s team had started to fan tribal clashes in various parts of the country to create fear among ODM supporters.
“We have evidence that the Government has sensed that there could be a re-run of the presidential election and are causing panic in ODM strongholds,” said Mudavadi.
He added: “They are inciting our people to fight so that they will not vote when a re-run is called.”
The prayers were organised by more than 20 denominations. Catholic Archbishop Zaccheus Okoth and Bishop Mwai Abiero of the Anglican Church led the Mass.
MPs present were Mr Aluoch (Kisumu Town West), Mr Ochieng’ Daima (Nyakach), Mr Shakeel Shabbir (Kisumu Town East), Mr Charles Lilechi (Shinyalu) and Mr Manyala Keya (Lurambi).
There were light moments when the crowd demanded that a Legio Maria priest who had been left out of the programme be allowed to pray.
Cries of ‘Legio! Legio” forced the organisers to usher in the Rev Ouma Janabi, who was dressed in sacks, to offer a winding up prayer.
Earlier in Kakamega, ODM vowed not to relent in its drive to have Kibaki step down following last year’s disputed elections, saying he did not win the presidential elections.
Raila said Government officials had misused police officers “by instructing them to act adversely against those who rejected the presidential results”.
“I know you are very angry and you have every right to feel so. Your victory was stolen by the same people who are now killing you,” he said.
He urged Kenyans not to give up, saying ODM was still determined to get what was rightfully theirs.
“Like the River Nile, we have come all the way from Cherangani Hills in Kenya to Lake Victoria then Sudan and Egypt. We are now near the delta,” said Raila.
The team held inter-denominational prayers for people killed by police during the mass protests.
On landing at the Kakamega Airstrip, the team proceeded to the Kakamega Provincial General Hospital to visit victims of violence.
Raila claimed that the Electoral Commission of Kenya Chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, was forced to announce the flawed results or face dire consequences.
He said Kibaki would not succeed in using the police force to remain in office illegitimately.
“Kibaki has about 100,000 security officers against over 30 million Kenyans,” he said.
Ruto said ODM would continue to put pressure until justice was done and Kenyans got the president of their choice.
“You become president by winning, not by being defeated. Our victory has been delayed, but we will eventually get it,” said Ruto.
More than 50 people died in Kakamega, Butere, Mumias and Lugari districts during the election violence.
Kakamega Provincial General Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr Godrick Onyango, told the Pentagon members that most of the victims brought to the hospital had gun wounds.
“We have established that a 53 people died from bullet wounds,” said Onyango.
He said the number could be higher since other bodies had been buried and not reported, especially in Mumias, Webuye and Butere.
In Vihiga District, Mudavadi heard that 36 cases had been reported at Mbale District Hospital.
Mudavadi, who met the Medical Officer of Health, Dr D Ong’ong’a, said it was unfair for Government security organs to use excessive force against innocent people exercising their democratic rights.
Ong’ong’a said of the 36, 18 people had died, 15 from gunshot wounds.
A 15-year-old boy was among those shot in the back.
“The boy died,” said Ong’ong’a.
Another victim, Mr Arthur Kidiga, told the ODM leaders that he had lost his legs.