The police now say that 600 people have died in election violence in Kenya – up from the previous official figure of 350.
Eldoret, the location of the Discipleship Training Center where Doug has ministered on several occasions, has been completely cut off from the rest of the country by fighting. Eldoret is about 20 miles south of the Rift Valley.
The violence is due to charges that the recent Presidential election putting Kibaki back into office were flawed. European Union observers have confirmed concerns about the presidential poll noting that voter turnout in one area was recorded at 115%. Supporters of Raila Odinga, Kibaki’s main challenger, believe he was cheated of victory.
Ethnic tension is not new to Kenya. Since independence in 1963, there have been occasional flare ups. Corruption is still common. Far too many Kenyan ethnics believe that if one of their own is in power, they will benefit directly – a relative may get a civil service job or some windfall will come to their tribe. The ethnic groups were empowered in the 1990s, when the then President Daniel Moi was forced to introduce multi-party politics.
The Rift Valley Province has witnessed most of the bloodshed, including 30 burned to death while sheltering in an Eldoret Assembly of God church. Most Kenyans have been shocked by the violence and would prefer dialogue. Kenya has been an oasis of stability with a booming tourist trade. It is strategically important. Kenya has hosted regional peace talks and many humanitarian organizations are based there.
The police, unlike the army, are comprised of a mixture of ethnic groups. They have led the crack down on unrest since violence erupted. As a diverse force, they are less likely to show political favoritism. The army and Paramilitary General Service Unit have large numbers of Kalenjin soldiers from Mr Moi’s day in office. The Kalenjins have sided with the opposition party in the current crisis.