Thomas McKenzie
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The Crisis in Kenya

I have a colleague who lives in Uganda and works for the Archbishop there. She just sent out this update about the situation in Kenya. For those of us who are missing this in the mass media, this is a good summary.

You may have seen or heard reports about the political crisis in Kenya following their presidential and parliamentary elections on December 27th, 2007. I thought I would share with you an update from next door in Uganda.

Here's the background. On Thursday, 27th December, Kenya held presidential and parliamentary elections. The incumbent, President Kibaki, a Kikuyu, was being challenged by the main opposition candidate from western Kenya (which borders Uganda). His name is Raila Odinga and he is a Luo. For the first time in Kenya's history, the race was very, very close.

To make a long story short, after several days of counting the votes, the incumbent - President Kibaki - was declared the winner and sworn in almost immediately. There are, however, many allegations of voting and counting irregularities, and the result is that riots and violence have broken out throughout Kenya. Western Kenya (which borders Uganda), has been hardest hit. Kikuyu (historically from the central region of Kenya), who were living in Western Kenya (home to the vast majority of Luos), have experienced the brunt of the post-election violence. They have been chased from their homes, their homes have been burnt, and they have sought shelter in police stations and churches. In Eldoret, a town in Western Kenya, 30-40 women and children were killed when the church to which they had sought refuge was burnt down.

The reports now are that 486 people have died in violence, and more than 250,000 people are displaced. There is plenty of food in the Kenya, but the food can't be delivered. All movement of goods has ceased, because of road blocks set up by vigilante groups. Today the World Food Programme was sending the first trucks in a police-protected convoy to Western Kenya to deliver food to the displaced.

I am not concerned about violence spreading into Uganda, because this situation is a peculiarly Kenyan problem. Nonetheless, the conflict is having an impact on Uganda, with refugees entering from Kenya and a cut off of supply of gasoline most of which enters Uganda from Kenya.

The International Monetary Fund is warning that a major economic crisis will hit the region, including Uganda, if the violence does not dissipate soon. Please keep praying for an end to violence, for peace, and for the just rule of law. Pray that the Church can be a significant force for reconciliation and restoration.

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