Kenya protests continue

The World

Today, opposition protesters clashed with police in a number of Kenyan cities. At least two protesters were killed. DM was at one of the protests called by the opposition Orange Democratic Movement today. LM �what did you see and what went on there?� DM �we went into the center of the town following several of these Orange Democratic leaders. They were surrounded by several hundred people, the crowds weren’t huge but tear gas was shot at the protesters and some of the media with the protesters as well. We were chased out of the center of town by riot police in heavy riot gear. That was just the center of town where they were trying to hold the rallies. There was also a fair amount of fighting that went on in Nairobi’s two main slums. The reports come out of one of the slums have several people being shot by police and houses being burnt there. The tactics seem to be changing now. what seems to be the main gameplan is to actually shut this country down and make it ungovernable. And certainly having spoken to many people in the center of Nairobi today, a lot of people will be staying away from work for the next couple of days. So this is really going to hurt the country.� LM �The protesters themselves are operating with the enthusiastic approval of the opposition Rilo Odinga and on the other hand the incumbent president, Kibaki, is also encouraging the police to forcefully act against the protesters. Tell us a little bit more about these two figures who have been in the news for quite some time now.� DM �Well certainly they were both in the same government until a couple of years ago, they were both in the opposition when there was an effective dictator of this country for quite a long period. so they were a team until about 2004 when clearly there were issues with corruption in the government that many people, including Mr. Odinga didn’t approve of. Now Mr. Odinga himself is from a long pedigree of politicians whose father was actually the Vice President back in the 1960s and then himself became something of an opposition figure. Mr. Odinga spent most of his time in opposition. He’s from the Luo tribes, it’s one of the biggest tribes in Kenya but it’s from Western Kenya, one of the more marginalized parts of Kenya. So for him to actually become president is of huge significance for the region he’s from and the people he represents. For Mr. Kibaki, he’s a life long politician, he’s been a cabinet minister since the 1960s so he’s very much on the inside.� LM �if Odinga comes from a poverty-stricken tribe, how come he won’t accept at this point a power sharing arrangement with Kibaki?� DM �Well he says this election was stolen from him and certainly there’s a fair bit of evidence that this is true. So he, from his standpoint says there’s actually no reason he should be forced to share power with President Kibaki when this election was rigged. That’s his standpoint and he actually had a point today, he said nobody was suggesting Al Gore and George Bush share power after the 2000 elections just because Al Gore got more votes. So he basically feels that he’s absolutely in the right and is refusing to step down, and Mr. Kibaki is also feeling he’s absolutely in the right. And you have two people at this point, really, who are intractable on their standpoint.� LM �you’ve been reporting from Kenya for a couple years now. I just wonder what this period in Kenyan history feels like for you?� DM �it’s incredibly sad for me. Kenya has always been a safe haven for me. I’ve gone to other countries that have problems like what Kenya is having now and come back and Kenya things are calm here. It’s like going through the looking glass, everything looks familiar to me but everything has changed considerably. And it’s affected people I know, many Kenyan friends have been forced from their homes and are forced to share homes with relatives now. it is an incredibly sad story for me to have to report on because this is a place that has come to mean a lot to me.�

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