News 2008


State denies BBC report on link to post-election violence

March 6, 2008


BBC and Standard Reporter

The Government has denied a BBC report indicating that the State sanctioned the recent violence in parts of the country.

The respected British broadcaster quoted sources alleging that meetings were hosted between the banned Mungiki militia and senior government figures.

"The aim was to hire them as a defence force in the Rift Valley to protect the Kikuyu community," the BBC story says.

But on Wednesday, the government called the allegations "preposterous".

A statement by Government Spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, said: "The Government of Kenya has been shocked by a story appearing on the BBC that alleges that members of the banned group Mungiki held meetings at State House, Nairobi, the Official Office of the President.

"No such meetings took place at State House or any government office...

Such "unfounded lies" are "injurious to the President, Government and the people of Kenya," the statement said.

Mutua said the Mungiki sect was a criminal organisation, adding that last year, it launched a special operation to wipe out the sect and arrested its key leaders.

Head of Presidential Press Service Mr Isaiya Kabira told the BBC that State House was "a very honourable place", adding that "if anything in the last one or two months, all meetings that have taken place here have been aimed at trying to achieve a peaceful solution" to Kenya’s problems.

The BBC’s Karen Allen in Nairobi says there was growing suspicion that some of the violence that led to 1,500 people being killed and hundreds of thousands displaced was orchestrated by both sides of the political divide.

On the weekend of January 25, the BBC report says, the Rift Valley towns of Nakuru and Naivasha were the focus of the some of the worst post-election violence.

Eyewitnesses spoke of homes belonging to some communities being marked, then gangs with machetes — who they claim were Mungiki — attacked.

Sources inside the Mungiki have told the BBC that it was a renegade branch of the outfit that was responsible for violence, not them.

A policeman who was on duty at the time, who has spoken to the BBC on condition of anonymity, has also pointed to clear signs of State complicity.

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

"When we were there... I saw about 12 of them [matatus] packed with men," he said. "There were no females... I could see they were armed. We were ordered not to stop the vehicles, to allow them to go."

The allegations come at a time of growing concern that there was pre-planned violence on both sides of the political fence, in the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed election results.

The International Crisis Group has already raised such concerns and Human Rights Watch is expected to publish its report shortly making similar claims.