Friday, February 01, 2008

Inconceivable Chaos in Kenya

The road from Eldoret to Kericho ... is a gauntlet of machete-wielding teenagers, some chewing stalks of sugar cane, others stumbling drunk.

On Friday, there were no less than 20 checkpoints in the course of 100 miles and at each barricade — whether it was a downed telephone poll, a charred truck or a 500-pound gnarled tree stump — mobs of rowdy young men jumped in front of cars, refusing to let them pass.

The crisis in Kenya in which more than 800 people have been killed since a flawed election in December is certainly ethnic. But there is another, simpler side emerging.


“It has led to an intolerable level of deaths, destruction, displacement and suffering,” [Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations,]said. “This is unacceptable. It has to stop.”
So, I'd really like to see more out of Barack Obama on this. If you haven't been following, he's half Luo, and Raila Odinga who feels that he won the Presidential election, has stated that he's Barack's father's cousin (although that can be a pretty loose term in Kenya.) Barack's got standing in Kenya.

President Mwai Kibaki is pushing for a "US 2000" resolution to the crisis: let the true winner fade into the background and have his adherents grumblingly accept the theft. (The winner in our case wasn't the sitting president, so a little protest might have gotten us somewhere.) Raila Odinga is not happy with that, and is not advocating peace.

Barack Obama has been in presumably supportive contact with Mr. Odinga, but doesn't seem to have done anything with his existing relationship with Mr. Kibaki from his 2006 visit, on which
He praised Kenya’s lack of major ethnic conflict and its history of clean elections. But he added, “You’re starting to see the reassertion of ethnic identity as the basis for politics,” which he said was not good.
So, buddy. You want to show your foreign policy chops? It's not like I know the way out here, but I'm not asking to be president. Here's a problem tailor made for you to solve.

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