There’s a siege mentality that has been going on in our little suburb for the past couple of days. Shops are opening briefly for an hour or so and residents are stocking up on large quantities of supplies such as; milk, bread, eggs, booze, meat and vegetables, due to the uncertainty in the air. Who knows when shops will be re supplied? Very few people are pitching up for work at the moment and most of the matatus have stopped running. All our new year’s eve plans have been put on hold and people have been advised to avoid travelling.
Now there’s accusation from Raila Odinga (the current president’s main opponent) that the ECK (Electoral Committee of Kenya) have tampered with results and massaged figures so that the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, will get back into power, in spite of the majority of Kenyans voting for Raila. He claims that there are anomalies in results from as many as forty eight constituencies. Reported numbers of votes from regions of Kenya have been inexplicably changing over the past 72 hours, mysteriously closing the gap between Kibaki and Odinga, the former of which was originally clearly in the lead.
We have received texts that read as follows: ‘High alert from united nations, pls stay in doors and have enough food till things calm, forward sms 2 friends and loved ones.’ Everyone is keeping a low profile in case of violence and the British High Commission advise utmost caution.
There has been pilfering of shops in Kisumu yesterday and, rioting in Eldoret, three people were killed in a slum skirmish in Nairobi last night and there’s been multiple burning of vehicles by youth demonstrators in towns around Kenya, everyone is clamouring for a fair result, everyone wants to know what is happening, they have waited long enough. On a more personal level, we were supposed to be driving to Naivasha for a quiet new year in a pretty self catering cottage – now we are holed up at home as if under house arrest!
The election result was due to have been delivered by now (12pm) but we are still waiting and hoping that no news is good news. The local TV networks have been broadcasting live from the KICC (Kenya International Conference Centre where the votes are being counted) for the last couple of hours, waiting for an official announcement. All we can see on our screens is people milling about patiently waiting inside the conference centre, chatting on their mobile phones. We are all on tenterhooks.
This morning, when I ventured out to do my panic buying, Kenyans were expecting Kibaki to be voted back in to power, as it seemed he had somehow managed to manipulate things to go his way - as does seem to happen in the developing world when there is a presidential election. We will now wait and see, but now that doubt has been cast over the whole proceeding it’s likely that if Odinga does not get in, there will be rioting.