I fear for Kenya today. There is, according to the news, according to those I have spoken to there, a deep sense of foreboding, an eerie silence; the lull before the storm.
The goverment has refused mediation from outside, asserting their confidence that this is a Kenyan crisis which they can deal with on their own. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has said he will go ahead with his protest march in the capital, Nairobi, despite the authorities declaring it illegal. The security forces are in evidence – both in the city and outside, in a bid to prevent protestors from gaining entry to Nairobi.
I speak to a friend on the phone, she is at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport; she says it is full of people who have fled the violence in the west of the country. She says they are sitting meekly in huddles, looking bewildered and frightened. They expected free and fair elections, not this. Not the growing fear that this could be ”another Rwanda”. Foregin consulates are beginning to mutter about ”pulling their people out if necessary”.
The Kenyans stuck between two warring political factions don’t have that luxury. They voted in what they believed was a free and fair election and they feel cheated: those who voted for Kibaki feel their vote has been negated as being invalid, those who voted for Odinga don’t believe they were counted. And then to compound the misery of not having their voice heard, they are being dragged into a crisis that threatens to engulf their country.