Sadly it seems that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has not arrived in Kenya today mediate between Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki, due to ill health. However, the fact that Parliament sat down yesterday and thrashed out the election of Speaker (that process took six hours!), Deputy Speaker and 206 MPs were sworn in, including Odinga (who purposefully omitted to swear allegiance to the presidency in his oath), was nothing short of a miracle in my view. I was steeled for tantrums, walk outs and mud slinging (though there was indeed a little of that – but at least some grievances were vented in the presence of a Parliamentary mediator who was able to keep order – first the Clerk and then the new Speaker elected). The ruling party took their seats one hour before they were due to begin session, in order to make sure that opposition did not try to take over their side of the house as had been threatened. We can only hope that Kibaki and Odinga finally coming face to face, albeit without addressing one another, and some business being concluded in Parliament, can be viewed as a small step forward.
Today the promise of yet another ODM mass demonstration hangs over the country, it was due to start at 10am in 41 venues country wide and is set to be repeated on Thursday and Friday too. Proffessor Anyang' Nyong'o, oppositon party Secretary General said: 'There is no backing down......The aim of the rallies is to make a point to the public and the world that the presidential vote was stolen and we are ready for a re-run.' In many areas, freight has been taken off the road, armed police presence is heavy and many school children are spending yet another day at home as so many parents fear violence breaking out. However, we ruthlessly pushed our daughter onto the school bus this morning and hope not to run into any trouble later today when trying to collect her!
Since Christmas, Nairobi has been extremely dry and dusty with no rain, which has been fortunate for all those internally displaced Kenyans (IDKs) who have slept rough on the ground at the police posts, schools, public event grounds and churches. When the post election violence kicked off, it was hot and very windy – at the risk of sounding a bit like a white witch, I’m sure that I read somewhere that more crimes are committed in windy weather than in any other. Last night was the second night where the weather broke and we had heavy downpours. Normally I would feel glad that our brown grass would finally be getting a drink but have my usual guilt about the poor night watch men who stay up all night to patrol our property. This time I thought about all the refugees in Nairobi who still cannot go home after three weeks, if indeed they still have a home to go to. The rain started falling at about midnight and is still falling now it is mid morning. Hopefully these are not the right weather conditions for mass demonstration in the capital.
The Standard newspaper today states that the European Union (EU) has threatened to reduce aid to Kenya if a solution is not found over the disputed presidential elections. Louis Michel, EU Development Commissioner said: ‘It is difficult to continue on the same level of budgetary support if we see that the election has not been fully respected.’ Jendayi Frazer also hinted at the same when she stated that the US could not conduct ‘business as usual’ in Kenya in the absence of a negotiated settlement between the two leaders. Kenyans are also beginning to count the cost as all the uncertainty continues and business is disrupted across the board.
As we watched events unfolding in Parliament on Nation TV last night my husband said: ‘I don't think that I have ever been so politically aware in my whole life!’