Talk about Newsnight

Latest programme

What now for Kenya?

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jan 08, 10:57 AM

Police in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have used water cannon and tear gas to stop people joining an opposition rally kenya_mob203x152.jpgprotesting against the outcome of the presidential election.

The march, banned by the Kenyan authorities, was organised by the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the election.

There has been violence across the country, including the burning of a church in Eldoret in which more than 30 people, including 13 young children, died.

About 300 people have been killed and at least 70,000 driven from their homes across Kenya since Sunday.

kenya_police203x100.jpgDespite international calls for calm, there seems to be no immediate end to the post-election crisis and violence in sight.

Newsnight's Paul Mason is on his way to Nairobi, but we want to hear from those who have been affected by the unrest in Kenya - both from overseas and from within the country.

What have you seen? And what are your hopes and fears for Kenya's future now?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:09 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Fred Sewe wrote:

It's very unfortunate what this country has experienced in the last 3 days. I am now hosting 2 families in my house and my business is on the line. The election tallying process was very flawed but this does not mean we have to experience the current bloodletting.

Two wrongs do not make a right and so Kibaki and Raila MUST meet not thru intermediaries but face to face to solve the current impasse.

Fred Sewe

  • 2.
  • At 06:09 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Abdul said fuad wrote:

I am Abdul said fuad from mombasa kenya at the moment i am in dubai for 2month and on 23th i must back home know i think myself how can i go back when i call home i get sad are close people eat papa for a week,people die.for my point of view i think kibaki he should let raila odiga to be a presedent he desever it because he win the election.last time he is the one who make kibaki win. when you look back know kibaki he should step down and let others maybe we would see the defferent.i have hope if raila odinga he will be a presedent kenya we will laugh he is nice person even he`s people are bad but raila is the best.

  • 3.
  • At 06:10 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Caroline wrote:

First Choice are saying that my holiday to Kenya (resort and 3 day safari and flight) will be safe by 27 Jan. when myself, husband and 3 children are due to fly out. They are refusing for me to change my holiday destination to e.g Mexico/Egypt. My husband and I re-mortgaged to give our children a holiday in a life time experience, which this will simply not be. How can anyone 'holiday' and enjoy pimms by the poolside, only three weeks after masses of local villagers have been slaughtered? How can we visit local villages when in this chaos, which is impossible to resolve in three weeks, houses and lives can't be put back together in this short time period.

First Choice are refusing to negotiate an alternative holiday for our family. The only options we have are to go to Kenya (if the Foreign Office say it is 'safe' to do so) and face the uncertainty of been killed and observe the mass devastation first hand, wonderful experience I do not expect, OR to stay at home, safe, and loose £5,000.

Obviously as parents who love their children, the only realistic option is to now forgo £5,0000. Although I know this is hardly comparable to the suffering that the people of Kenya are experiencing, this is still unjust, unfair and down right disgusting of First Choice.

First Choice can't guarantee peace will be restored on 27 Jan; First Choice can't guarantee my family's protection in Kenya. First Choice consider it unreasonable of their customers to request an alternative holiday destination, I mean an opportunity to visit a slaughtered country must be at the top of everyone's favourite destinations. All First Choice are concerned with are profits and I think their service to customers is shocking. First Choice are not considering their customers safety, nor holiday enjoyment.

I am outraged by their irresponsibleness and refusal to find an alternative. I simply can't understand how it is expected that my family and I will be able to enjoy this holiday, if indeed the FO determine that it is 'safe' to travel. Reports now are showing that tourists dare not venture out of their resort complex, some safaris have been cancelled and armed escort if required to and from the airport. How can I possibly relax and enjoy this as a holiday? I do not think it unreasonable to request alternative holiday destination of a similar standard, or a full refund. The other issue is that do I put my family through the issue of taking malaria tablets and yellow fever vaccination, when my youngest if only 5 years old and the high chance that it will be unsafe to travel so a waste of over £100. I do not think it unreasonable to ask for an alternative holiday destination or refund now, so we have time to find something else and ensure ourselves and children are safe.

Please advise who can help.

Caroline Merritt, from Stoke on Trent

  • 4.
  • At 06:12 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • richard wrote:

The British media, particularly the BBC must be held responsible for the excessive reporting of events like the current crisis in Kenya.

By their coverage they do little more than fan the flames.

The situation in Kenya for example, requires a brief mention, some moderate video coverage. Most British couldn't really care less about the situation. And why would they be? Yet this issue has been thrashed over and over again in the media.

And the effect it has on the local people on the ground is to make the situation worse. By inflaming them.

  • 5.
  • At 06:35 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Patrick Fox wrote:

I live in Muthaiga, an area full of ambassadors and others of that ilk and as so often with crises such as the one that is engulfing Kenya now, the impact on the smarter areas is nil cf Northern Ireland Lower Falls vs Bangor; you have to watch the television to see what is happening. And that is the problem, until today the politicians preferred to issue statements from smart hotels and none of them have suffered the grief that the wanainchi in the slums have. In the UK politicians are generally held in low esteem but compared to the lot here, they are paragons of virtue and probity. Parties issue an utterly meaningless manifesto which is forgotten on day one of being in power and despite being best paid MPs in the world, busy themselves with getting their snouts in the public trough. One of the good things from this election is that many of these self serving politicians have been thrown out by those they profess to serve including the Moi family en masse so thus democracy advances. Make no mistake, this is a crisis without a quick or easy answer but Kenya's electorate will have learnt from it.

  • 6.
  • At 07:45 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Judith Butler wrote:

jokes fit for an 11 year old, are funny, better than adult jokes which are mostly crude.


Yesterday's appalling Joke Fit For an Eleven Year Old is only the beginning of the Bad Taste Bin. This one comes from Newsnight viewer Peter C.

The children had all been photographed, and the teacher was trying to persuade them each to buy a copy of the group picture.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer, she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael, He's a doctor."

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's the teacher, she's dead."

Newsnight is at 10.30pm on BBC2.


Happy New Year.

  • 7.
  • At 09:46 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • David Sigilai wrote:

The situation in Kenya undermines democracy in every aspect. Kenyans showed up to vote that day because they wanted to change the government of the day. Having realized that he had lost, Kibaki decided to install himself anyway against the will of the people who voted for him. What messege does that sent to Kenyans, that their efforts to elect the leader they wanted was a waste. But that does not justify the current events in the Country. There are obviously other means of sorting out differences other than violence. Kibaki is very unpopular right now and I wonder if he still thinks he can lead the country under the present circumstances. Even if the violence ended today and business resumes, what kind of a leader is he going to be? Who would respect him by virtue of his position as the head of state.

He has also helped antagonize the Kikuyu community against other Kenyans, who feel that the present administration has favoured them. There are a lot Kikuyus who feel that what Kibaki did was wrong, but they are not being spared of the violence, just because they are Kikuyus. Kenyan leaders need to find a way to stop the violence and find it fast. Inocent people are suffering and property is being lost while Kibaki and Raila and other leaders are safe in their houses or wherever they are.If the leaders love the country as they preached during elections, then it is time for them to stop the violence, not by shooting people on the streets but by calling for calm and immedoate halt to the current violence. Please put the interests of the Country and other Kenyans above your own. Doesn't your conscience accuse you of some wrong. How do you go to sleep at night with other people dying because of your fault.

  • 8.
  • At 10:46 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • cris wrote:

When Raila and other leaders led Kenyans 5 years ago to vote for Kibaki against Moi's candidate nobody said he was a tribalist

Today we hear how terrible a tribalist he is. I fail to understand one thing, how come nobody is calling Ruto, Nyagah or Ngilu a tribalist?

When Police kill 150 people it is violence as long they are from the opposition, when people who die are from Kibaki's tribe its genocide

I think Kenya is running mad!

  • 9.
  • At 11:53 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Pappi Pugh wrote:

Barack Obama, a Luo, is busy taking part in the Iowa Caucuses and staying quiet about the plight of the people in the country he calls home, Kenya. Raila Odinga, a Luo too, represents an ethnic group that has been politically isolated in Kenya since Independence. Fortunately, riots and looting did not break out in the centre of Nairobi today. But, I can't help thinking that the people of the Kibera slums were motivated to protest, not by the need to bring about political change, but by the opportunity the protest brought to begin a mass looting campaign. For the 'have nots' it's an opportunity to have something. When riots broke out in Kisumu last week looting began first at the supermarkets. That's because the looters from the slums on the outskirts of city need food before cars and electrical appliances. This is hard to digest when Europe imports thousands of tonnes of fish, the main source of food there, from the town weekly and fish prices locally have become too expensive.

Obama's poster headline for his election campaign is "Hope". The Kenyans have seen this before. It was the name of the former President Arap Moi's Political Party (Uhuru). Hope did not help them then, and it's not stepping in to help them now.

  • 10.
  • At 12:50 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Howard wrote:

What has happened to your live feed?

  • 11.
  • At 05:25 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • alh abubakar wrote:

Honestly speaking,what has happened and is still happening in our sister country kenya is not only unfotunate but madness.
Issues of electoral theft,rigging and what have you have become prevalent even the so called democratically advanced countries like the us.
In nigeria we had series of that but never have we gone mad to the extent of killings rather we refer electoral matters to election tribunals!
If the courts in a nation are not involved in settling electoral matters such as this then where is the rule of law,civility and the so call democracy?
If at all there should be protest let it be peaceful.Meanwhile there should be a face to face meeting between the warring parties and they should quickly stop the madness before they ruin the economy and with it the political base.

  • 12.
  • At 07:08 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Josue wrote:

Africa has a problem. He has a serious problem of mentality. That heppens in Kenya show to the all of the world what and who is African people. I'm an African and I'm very very sad. Oh Africa, why did you do it like this ? Oh my God.

  • 13.
  • At 11:38 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • obonyo ko'biero wrote:

The people of kenya has finaly spoken and has toppled yoke that has long been layed on them by the colonialist since the 19th century.Kenya has since been ruled by British flawed laws (constitution) ever since until 27/12/07,law which was left in the hands of Colonial gate keepers of the late 1920's.
So now its still Kenyan's tide to put their own rule of law that fit their needs, culture and tradition in Africa style, of course we can not do all these by ourselves so we need Kenyans true friends other than that do not interfere.

  • 14.
  • At 06:08 PM on 07 Jan 2008,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

It is a tragedy what is happening in Kenya. However, it is not something new, remember the Mau Mau.

The jaw dropping part for me is America, under their President G W Bush, sending someone to try reconciliation between the opposing party's, were the accusation is that the election was rigged.
Does Bush think that the rest of us have forgotten how he came to power.

  • 15.
  • At 01:29 AM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Benedict Kiunga wrote:

It was interesting in the newsnight programme how Mr Ruto misled the audience that majimbo means devolution. Please give us a break from the semantics- during the election campaign this chap went round his region (Rift Valley including the town of Eldoret) and openly incited his kinsmen in a campaign that was not based on issues but on hatred of the kikuyus. Majimbo notwithstanding its meaning in the dictionary was actually interpreted as kicking out ethnic groups thought to support the president and although the kikuyus bore the brunt of it so have kisii and akamba people. No wonder the violence was worst in this region with bands of his tribesmen attacking all and sundry including children as well. The attacks were so sudden and well planned that it beggars belief that this was a spontaneous outpouring of electoral rage.
Secondly most of the dead have been in villages and farms initially inaccessible due to blockades by his supporters and not from police action - there is a big difference between police restoring order by stopping killings; looting and burning of private property vis a vis the burning and slaughter of people in their homes home by marauding gangs. Mr Ruto has never publicly called for calm in his backyard nor made the effort to visit the areas he represents to calm the situation and when asked by Mr Paxman he actually evaded the issue saying that Mr Odinga had called for calm. This is abusing Kenyans intelligence- Mr Odingas support in Rift Valley is dependent on Mr Ruto- as such the latters calls are meaningless since the power in Rift Valley is in reality Mr Ruto's. Mr Odinga's folly was that in his haste to be President he made an alliance with this lot naively not realising their sinister motives. I predict a fall out between these people once all is settled and prosecutions roll in- Mr Odinga will want to protect himself and someone has to be answerable for the violence and displacement of thousands otherwise come 5 years from now the cycle will be repeated if the perpetrators of such crimes are not tried to deter similar behavior in future.

  • 16.
  • At 05:51 AM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Peter Kinuthia wrote:

I totally agree with Benedict Kiunga.The alleged rigging notwithstanding, the opposition was not prepared to accept defeat.If anyone recalls,during the referendum in 2005, a mr. MUSA SIRMA( MP from Eldama Ravine in the rift Valley),had publicly issued awarning to the Kikuyus that should the referendum pass, KIKUYUS SHOULD BE PREPARED TO LEAVE the Province.This has been enforced after the election.As of todate, Mr. Ruto and RAILA have not visited the area and in particular ELDORET to tell their followers to stop the killings, but they are the first to accuse the police of Indiscriminate killings. Who has not seen their machete waving, and bow and arrows carrying supporters.Who has not read of the road blocks manned by 14 year olds seeking Kikuyus among motorists in Rift Valley for the sole purpose of killing them. What of the report of a college don in Buret in The Rift Valley being forced to throw out any Students who were KIKUYUS, MERU, KISII or KAMBA by a mob,failure to which they threatened to burn the college down (luckily these students were removed under police escort).What of the report from a NAKUMATT Store of Luos from Kibera attempting to stockpile machetes before the election.This riots were not a spontaneous reaction someone had planned them. I would take a hard look into one MUSA SIRMA in the Rift Valley.

  • 17.
  • At 12:18 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Mumbi Kaptere wrote:

I watched open mouthed too, as Ruto stumbled to explain what he and his party had done to calm tensions.

He got away with his pathetic explaination of Majimbo but was clearly struggling.

I just wished Paxo had been in a position to ask why Raila had said:
"Democracy is expensive...people should be prepared whatever price it takes to get it"
at a time when his supporters had already begun rioting and damaging property.

And why Raila had not bothered to qualify the statement by saying those who voted for Kibaki and others were exercising their democatic right and should under no circumstances be punished for it.And if he was then surprised that people took this to be an endorsement of their response to the result and thus a justification of it.

It was good to see the other side exposed for the shameless opportunists they are though ...however fleetingly.

  • 18.
  • At 08:57 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

It doesn't really matter how one translates 'majimbo' - most of the UK population wouldn't understand the English equivalent either. If the Kenyan political class pretend otherwise then either they're pretty stupid or just corrupt (I tend to think it's the latter).

Given the basic demographics, if one has to resort to having the population choose between a banana (yes) and an orange (no) in a referendum over the adoption of a new constitution, one can be sure that most of Kenya's population won't have the cognitive ability to comprehend the basics never mind finer legal points of what the constitution entails (in terms of land reform etc). Multiparty 'democracy' under such demographic conditions is just a cynical licence to mislead and exploit, as there couldn't possibly be a truly responsible, representative, mandate from the electorate.

Even the UK government doesn't trust its electorate to responsibly vote yes or no over the Lisbon Treaty because of the (no doubt contrived) complexities/opacity, so why was the Kenyan constitution ever put to the electorate? Kenya had a one-party system for a good reason. It's population isn't ready for multi-party democracy, and those who say otherwise are by definition corrupt (or incredibly ignorant).

  • 19.
  • At 07:57 AM on 18 Jan 2008,

AM very saddened with some of the comments from my fellows.Why is it every time a kikuyu comments he/she supports PNU likewise to a Luo or Kalenjin supporting ODM tnis accuusation and counter accusations will not help us as Kenyans. WHO DOES not know that Kibaki was rigged in.Its time we find solution such that these mistakes will not be repeated.Kibaki has already damaged both thr reputation of this countries an his.
We need international mediators which the government is opposed as from its stand last weeks.fORMER PRESIDENT Moi says the mediators dont understand the countries problems.Moi is known to have mediated in some countries,did understood those countries problems than others? shame shame on us Kenyans

  • 20.
  • At 11:10 PM on 22 Jan 2008,
  • joe K wrote:

I do wanna talk about kenya because it is a shame of my country. What I would ask is, where did we go wrong? why should people brainwash as thi much to a point of killing our frinds, brothers, sisters, fathers it is so so sad because when all this has been solved this the same people I will live with. So how will we live together with this kind of thinking??? Why should people use as to achieve their dreams? why cant we be a little bit wiser???? Were are there children when ours are fighting if they are truthful at heart?????

  • 21.
  • At 04:11 PM on 29 Jan 2008,
  • Mkenya wrote:

All i wanna ask iz....wakenya mnajifanyia nini???
wat are u doing to urselves kenyans??
last tyme i checked u were the most peacful country in the whole of east africa now ur the most feared and all that??
i mean c'mon....seriously this is insane....
I dont live in kenya anymore i went to canada to study but pple...wat is wrong wid y'all???
anyone answer me that first then i can get to rest ma mind...coz *** i dont get it...its too much for me.....
get back at me...and stay peacfulo for once...God!!!

This post is closed to new comments.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites