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International Criminal Court in The Hague will determine blame in 2007 Kenyan uprising

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 5th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Kenya is often called the "anchor state of West Africa," with relative peace and stability in that part of the continent. However, the 2007 presidential elections there plunged the nation into chaos and mass slaughter. The International Criminal Court in The Hague will determine later this month the culpability for the mass uprisings that shook Kenya that year.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The presidential election was held as part of the Kenyan general election on December of 2007. Incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner and sworn in on December 30, despite opposition leader Raila Odinga's claims of victory. There is agreement in the international community that the elections were at least partially manipulated. In July 2008, an exit poll commissioned by the US was released, revealing that Odinga won the election by a comfortable margin of 6 percent, 46 percent to 40 percent, well outside of the exit poll's 1.3 percent margin of error.

The election stirred up much tribalism within the nation, as Kibaki was a member of the traditionally dominant Kikuyu ethnic group. He received much of his support amongst people of Central Kenya i.e. Kikuyu and neighboring groups like Embu and Meru.

Odinga, as a member of the Luo ethnic group, succeeded in creating a wider base by building a coalition with regional leaders from the Luhya in Western Kenya, Kalenjin from the Rift Valley and Muslim leaders from the Coast Province.

Following the announcement of Kibaki's victory, civil unrest broke out which was often directed against members of Kibaki's ethnic group residing outside their traditional settlement areas.
In October 2007, Kenyan records were smashed as 50,000 people packed into Nairobi's Uhuru Park, screaming and chanting with adulation as then-opposition leader Raila Odinga launched his election campaign.

On the night of December 30, behind closed doors, the chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared Kibaki the winner by some 230,000 votes - though a few days later, he admitted he "did not know" who had won.

Within minutes of the announcement of Kibaki's victory, protests in the street alleging Kibaki had "stolen" the election turned violent.

It remains unclear exactly what happened next - that is, whether or not politicians ordered the targeting of tribal rivals - but the violence was quickly drawn along tribal lines.

As many as 1,400 people died in the span of 59 days, while 600,000 people were displaced from their homes, as Kenya slipped dangerously close to civil war. 2013 presidential candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an armed gang known as the Mungiki to target Luo communities.

Gangs of youths roamed through many of Kenya's slums, torching homes. Riots spread across the country. Adding fuel to the fire of unrest, news reports emerged showing police officers shooting unarmed protesters amid the chaos.

While the exact date is currently subject to a judge's decision, Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto will face trial at The Hague, charged with crimes against humanity. Radio journalist Joshua arap Sang will also stand trial.

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