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Kenya election violence planned by local leaders: HRW report

[JURIST] The violence that wracked Kenya after the nation's disputed 2007 presidential election [JURIST report] was carefully organized by "local leaders, politicians, and businessmen from all sides," according to a report [HRW materials; press release] released Monday by Human Rights Watch [advocacy website]. Based on over 200 interviews with witnesses and perpetrators of the violence, the report found that attacks on supporters of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki [official profile], largely members of the Kikuyu tribe, were planned and organized by local leaders. Reprisal attacks by Kikuyu militias were similarly organized:

The Kikuyu militias who struck in late January were organized, paid, and directed by local leaders, businessmen, and, in some cases, [Party of National Unity (PNU)] councillors and mobilizers. The extent to which the local organizers were in touch with senior PNU politicians or members of the government is unclear. But circumstantial evidence suggests that senior members of the government may have been aware of what was going on.
HRW also reported that Kenyan police had used excessive force and unlawful killings to quell demonstrations. HRW applauded Kibaki's plan to establish an investigatory panel [JURIST report] to review the election's outcome as part of a power-sharing deal [JURIST report] negotiated between Kibaki and opposition candidate Raila Odinga [campaign profile] last month.

Kibaki has long been accused of using his position to favor members of the Kikuyu tribe. Fueling accusations of malfeasance, Kibaki won the December 27 election despite early opinion polls that placed rival candidate Odinga in the lead. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets following the election, which prompted the government to temporarily ban public rallies and institute a curfew in Nairobi, the capital city. HRW reports that over 1,000 people have been killed and 500,000 displaced since protests began. Odinga's opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement filed a formal complaint [JURIST report] in January with the International Criminal Court [official website], alleging that Kibaki's administration committed crimes against humanity while using force against demonstrators. BBC News has more.

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