Spontaneous demonstrations of outraged ODM (opposition) supporters have caused some chaos today, following news of the murder of ODM MP, Mugabe Were outside his Nairobi home at half past midnight. Demonstrators or ‘mourners’ flowed out of Kibera slum stopping traffic in their wake, intending to visit the home of the deceased in Woodley Estate, Kilimani.
Police and television crews were outside MP Were’s house early this morning, and GSU (General Service Unit police officers) were quick on the scene to prevent unruly crowds from gathering in the area. From the breaking news footage, it looked like the gate of the MP’s house was swinging open and outsiders were going in and out of the driveway freely. TV camera men were boldly poking cameras in through the windows of the house, while random protestors blew whistles and shouted waving their hands in the air excitedly around the victim's parked car. A tyre was set on fire on the road just outside the entrance to the compound. Then, sadly, a police officer ill advisedly threw a tear gas canister into the garden of the murdered MP, presumably to disperse the media and demonstrators, but also causing the victim’s traumatised widow and family to then hurriedly evacuate the house as choking smoke wafted in through the open windows. The head of the Kilimani area police said that he ‘deeply regretted’ the action of this one officer who was certainly not acting under orders when lobbing tear gas at the grieving family. Overall the incident came across as being in extremely poor taste.
Later, Raila Odinga visited Were’s family and made a mixed statement pointing the finger directly at the Government for being the culprits in carrying out cold blooded murder, but also asking his supporters not to stage any violent reprisals.
There was a small flare up in our suburb of Karen outside the supermarket, causing concerned Mums who had just dropped kids at our kindergarten by 9am, to turn around immediately and return to school to take children back home again, leaving teaching staff at the school bewildered. Other Kenyan mothers speaking on the radio in Nairobi said that their children had been sent home from school by staff, as they had been worried by the appearance of many informal groups of demonstrators wielding sticks and pangas (machetes) out on the streets.
After this morning’s antics, the entire day has had a strange atmosphere and we were all wondering if things were about to come to a dramatic head in the midst of the apparent feeling of lawlessness. Due to the ban on live broadcasting, rumours were flying via text messages warning of an imminent coup, or simply stating: ‘Kibaki is handing over to army now’. In addition the Nairobi Star newspaper reported that; ‘alarming text messages warning that criminal gangs were headed for the city from upcountry have been circulating since last week’ but police today said that these rumours were unfounded and that the police had the situation under control.
The head of the police, Major General Hussein Ali said 1,777 new case files relating to the perpetrators of post election violence have been opened, all of which have now been handed over to the Attorney General for clearance before charging the suspects. There are also claims that certain politicians can be clearly implicated for orchestrating violence and even planning much of it before the election took place, but whether any witnesses are brave enough to stand up in court and give evidence to this effect remains to be seen.
This afternoon a lady in the supermarket (who I know!), bold as brass, took all twelve cartons of semi skimmed milk off the shelf leaving none for me! Panic buying resumes.
As this post is published, Mwai Kibaki, Raila Odinga, the majority of their followers, plus the African mediation team: Kofi Annan, Graca Machel and Benjamin Mkapa have all convened at Nairobi’s County Hall for talks. Let’s see how it goes – but let’s be thankful for now that at least they all turned up!