Militia Have Their Own Agendas
The East African (Nairobi)
11 February 2008
L Muthoni Wanyeki
We are now into the second of the two weeks given for progress on
the first three items of the mediation process. The prognosis is
The first item called for immediate action on violence, including
demobilising the organised militia and ensuring the police and the
General Service Unit act within the boundaries of the law. This
has not happened. Not only because the hardliners of both sides
perceive stepping down militia activity as not being in their
interest. But also because the militia have now developed
interests of their own.
In Rift Valley and the western part of the country, the focus of
the organised militia seems to have shifted to economic sabotage.
The roadblocks remain, from which safe passage fees can be
Around Mount Elgon, recognising that educational facilities cannot
function without the staff who were evicted because of their
ethnicity and perceived political alignment, those staff are being
invited back - but again, for the payment of protection fees.
Similarly, the organised militia moving out into the Rift Valley
from Nairobi and Central, having completed their first task -
revenge attacks and evictions - have also now started demanding
protection fees from those who remain. It is the Mungiki
phenomenon all over again - except this time, ouside the confines
of the low-income areas of Nairobi and other outlying metropolises.
Concerns also persist with respect to ensuring the police and GSU
operate within the boundaries of the law. The continued show of
force around Nairobi's middle- and upper-income areas disguises
the fact that many internally displaced camps remain without
sufficient protection - both in the Rift Valley as well as around
Nairobi and in Central Province.
The second item on the agenda addressed the humanitarian crisis
and the restoration of fundamental liberties, covering items such
as the opening of educational facilities, provision of assistance
to IDPs and their return, and the lifting of the ban on live
broadcasting, following the adoption of a code of conduct on the
same developed with the Media Council of Kenya.
MANY SCHOOLS ARE OPEN. MANY ARE not. The IDPs are getting
assistance - thanks to the valiant efforts of the Kenya Red Cross
and the donations of thousands of Kenyans.
But the return of IDPs is another question altogether - how are
they to begin to do so if the militia are still running the show?
And when citizens' own perceptions around safety and security and
where it can be found have been so fundamentally, if not
The heart breaks at the scale of what has been done to us.
Which brings me to the third item: The resolution of the political
crisis. Kofi Annan's announcement on Friday that agreement on a "political
solution" had been reached is encouraging.
Intransigence must end on both sides. At this point, it is not
about who won. It is about recognising that, regardless of who won,
the country is essentially neatly divided into half. This is an
A transitional arrangement is needed, leading to a re-run within
two years at most. That arrangement should focus on constitutional
reforms regarding the powers of the presidency, electoral reforms
after an independent investigation into the counting and tallying
of the presidential vote to enable both halves of the country to
put the 2007 presidential election to rest, reforms in the
security sector, the beginning of transitional justice and, most
important, the resettlement and re-enfranchisement of our IDPs.
At this point, the call is for all Kenyans. Anyone with any
influence at all over the two protagonists must do everything they
can to ensure that common sense and ethics are brought to bear in
this second week of the mediation process.
L. Muthoni Wanyeki is executive director of the Kenya Human