Post-Election Unrest In Kenya Also Stems From Tribe Tensions
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Let's go to Kenya now where conditions on the street are a stark contrast to those in Zimbabwe, even as Zimbabwe is facing an apparent military coup - albeit a bloodless one. By contrast, some 30 people have been killed since Friday in Kenya when Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga returned from a speaking tour in the U.S. But this is only the latest round of violence, which has been going on for months since the disputed presidential election in August. That election was annulled by the Supreme Court. Since then, the country has held another, and the opposition is disputing the results again. NPR's Eyder Peralta is back with us from the capital, Nairobi, to tell us more. Eyder, thanks so much for speaking with us again.
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: You're very welcome.
MARTIN: So tell us about conditions on the street. What are you hearing?
PERALTA: Yeah, this has just been a really dark weekend for Kenya. The violence started Friday when Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, returned to the country. And very early this morning, people were shot to death in opposition strongholds. The police say this was just a crime, but residents and the opposition leaders say that it was a gang that killed people because of their tribe. So the killings have just unleashed riots across the city. In some parts of Nairobi right now, people have set cars and buses on fire. And in some other areas, there's looting. Police have responded with tear gas and gunfire. And a member of parliament from the opposition party was shot in the leg during one of these confrontations. I have not been to the city mortuary, but the Associated Press did go. And since Friday, they have counted 31 people dead. All 13 of the dead who were brought in today had gunshot wounds.
MARTIN: So, Eyder, we are calling this political violence. Does this all have to do with the elections?
PERALTA: A lot of it does. I mean, you know, this started with demands for a free and fair election. But like a lot of things in Kenya, it also has a lot to do with tribe. You know, the opposition leader comes from a tribe that has felt marginalized for a really long time - since independence in this country. And the current president is the son of Kenya's first president. And three of four of the Presidents Kenya has had have been from the president's tribe.
MARTIN: So are the political leaders there doing anything to try to tamp down this violence?
PERALTA: No - I think that's one of the most remarkable parts of this story. The two men at the center of this - Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta - have not sat down to talk - not once. After the violence today, the opposition leader Raila Odinga told reporters that he's not backing down and that he will not be cowed by violence. And President Kenyatta has been a little more conciliatory, but he has also sent his VP to lay out a really tough stance. They say that this government will not allow one person to destroy the country and that they will not be held hostage by what they say is his incitement.
MARTIN: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta with us from Nairobi in Kenya. Eyder, thanks so much for speaking with us.
PERALTA: Thank you, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.