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25 February 2024

Gunmen kill Kenyan opposition lawmaker - party

By Agencies


Gunmen shot dead a Kenyan opposition politician at his home in the early hours of Tuesday, his Orange Democratic Movement said.

It was not immediately clear if the killing was politically motivated, but if it proves to be he would the first politician to be killed in the violence which has swept Kenya since last month's disputed election, dramatically ramping up tension.

More than 800 people have already been killed in the tribal bloodshed unleashed after the December 27 vote.

"He was shot at his house. The current situation makes one suspicious. All fingers will point at the government, and the government will have to show it is not involved," ODM spokesman Tony Gachoka said of the newly elected legislator, Melitus Were, who represented Nairobi's Embakasi district.

Another ODM party spokesman said Were was killed at the gate of his house at around 12:30 a.m. There was no immediate comment from the government or police.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has set Tuesday as a target for Kenya's government and opposition to name negotiators to try to end the violence.

Machete-wielding supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga have been fighting each other in the Rift Valley since late last week.

Nearly 100 people have been killed in that latest bloodshed, which has been largely centred on the Rift Valley towns of Naivasha and Nakuru, better known for their wildlife-filled lakes.

Police fired in the air to keep members of Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe, long-dominant in political and business life in East Africa's biggest economy, and Odinga's Luo tribe apart in the tourist spot of Naivasha.

The violence since the election has taken on a momentum of its own, with cycles of killing between tribes who have never reconciled divisions left by British colonial policy and exacerbated by politicians.

"What is alarming about the last few days is that there are evidently hidden hands organising it now. Militias are appearing ... the targeting is very specific," Britain's Africa Minister Mark Malloch Brown said on a visit to Kenya.

An official involved in Annan's mediation mission said the two sides had been asked to study a blueprint for talks on ending the bloodshed in Kenya, a key ally of the West in its efforts to counter Al Qaeda.

Annan's mission is part of an African peace effort.

Both sides have traded accusations of genocide in a standoff that has shocked world leaders, who had long viewed Kenya as a peacemaker, rather than a problem, on a volatile continent.

About 250,000 people have been turned into refugees by the violence.

Official results showed Kibaki narrowly won the election but Odinga says victory was stolen from him by vote-rigging.
International observers said the poll was flawed.

The United States believed the new violence "underscores the urgent need" for a political agreement, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington. (Reuters)