Kenya: Privatization of Political Violence?

The image “https://i2.wp.com/i113.photobucket.com/albums/n216/cbrayton/Stuff/politicalinstigated.png” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
FIDH report, March 2007: “Massive Internal Displacements Due to Politically Instigated Ethnic Clashes.” Is that what we are seeing now? Is the “explosion of tribal tensions” spontaneous, or is it engineered and “instigated” through the application of state and state-sponsored violence?

One tribe is targeting another one in a fashion that can rightly be described as ethnic cleansing,” said one senior police commander who declined to be identified. The Australian yesterday, citing “correspondents in Nairobi”

“There have been deaths all over the country,” Odinga told SPIEGEL ONLINE. “And the violence clearly originates from the police. They have shot dead innocent people: in Kisumu, in Eldoret, in Kericho.”

On 25/11/07, a government vehicle (White Mitsubishi Pajero, GK A545H) (See vehicle in Annex 1) assigned to the Assistant Minister for Water, Raphael Wanjala, was impounded in Naivasha carrying assorted crude weapons. The weapons included 100 pangas, whips, bows and arrows and 70 Somali swords. Also found in the car were President Mwai Kibaki s campaign posters and those of Mr Wanjala. No known action has been taken against Hon Wanjala regarding this incident. –“Still Behaving Badly” (KNHRC, December 2007)

The district has an estimated population of 600,000 and is divided into two constituencies, Molo and Kuresoi. Kuresoi has 10 administrative divisions while Molo has six. Kuresoi is the constituency most affected by the clashes, which pit three communities – the Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Kisii – against one another. This year’s violence, in the run up to the 27 December elections, has mostly affected the Kuresoi divisions Keringet, Kuresoi, Kamara and Olenguruone. Neighbours turn against their neighbours, burning homes and looting property, in what political observers say is incitement by politicians who promise them the land of those who flee.IRIN, December 17, 2007

Facile assumptions are often made about the release of “pent-up antagonisms” in times of political liberalization in Africa. The phenomenon of “transition violence”, however, is often best understood as regime resistance to pluralism and democratization. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, the political violence that has accompanied democratization efforts shows great continuity with earlier repression during single-party rule.In Kenya, the “ethnic clashes” (mainly 1990-1998) were essentially instances of state-sponsored repression of ethnic groups that generally supported multipartyism and opposition parties, but lived in pro-government areas. However, increased scrutiny by international actors at the end of the Cold War forced the state to take an arm’s length and sponsor other actors (such as “tribal warriors”) to carry out the violence. –Brown, Stephen, “Understanding Political Violence: Kenya and Zimbabwe in Comparative Perspective” (Conference Papers — International Studies Association, 2007)

African regimes’ repressive strategies changed during the post-1989 wave of democratization. Conventional methods of coercion–targeting of the opposition by the official security forces–were insufficient and costly in multiparty regimes. … Rulers in Kenya and Rwanda responded by privatizing state violence. Privatized repression allowed them to neutralize widespread challenges, while distancing themselves from political violence to minimize friction with aid donors. –Roessler, Philip G., “Donor-Induced Democratization and Privatization of State Violence in Kenya and Rwanda” (Comparative Politics, January 2005)

Kalenjin Online (Kenya) is organizing a write-in campaign to oppose what it claims is a coup d’etat organized by the incumbent Kenyan president, Kibaki:

It provides contact information for key U.S. political influentials and international human rights groups and provides a list of talking points to emphasize.

  1. Restriction of media and ban on public demonstrations.
  2. Police shoot to kill order.
  3. Refusal of the government to participate in international arbitration.
  4. Controversial vote tallying process and hastily swearing-in of the president.
  5. Arming of pro-government vigilante groups such as the Mungiki and Chinkororo and their incorporation into the uniformed forces.
  6. Senseless killings of the poor and destruction of property.
  7. Mention Kibakis record on corruption:The exile of John Githongo, Economic Crimes Forgiveness Act pushed by the government on the last parliament.

(2) and (5) are disturbing claims — although The Hindu has now verified (2) with three sources, in general terms, though without information about the rules of engagement provided with that order. If any.

(5) is especially disturbing. Is there any reliable basis for it?

It is especially odd to read that the Mungiki are “being incorporated into the uniformed forces” after reading allegations from the Kenyan National Human Rights Commission that police were targeting the same shantytown militia for summary execution between June and October of this year.

See

I have been trying to read all the coverage I can on the situation. See also

Just prior to the 1964 coup in Brazil, Carlos Lacerda, governor of Guanabara State (modern-day Rio de Janeiro) hired 5,000 new state military policeman from the shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro, without competitive examination or training.

This mass conscription on a patronage basis was used as a force multiplier in support of the military’s ousting of the elected government.

Ushering in the modern era of the patronage-driven political police, which has points of comparison with the “parapolitics” phenomenon, for example, in Colombia (where internal displacement also results from this dynamic.)

Is this really one of those? Or something comparable, mutatis mutandis?

Does Kenya have a problem analogous to the Blue Cartel in Mexico or the Comando Azul in Brazil? That is to say, “the cops are criminals and the political fix is in?”

This is another potentially incendiary accusation that needs running down in order to rule it in or out. There seems to be quite a bit of background research on the subject, but media coverge is mainly sticking to the usual ahistorical “if it bleeds, it leads” treatment — with the blogosphere following its lead, for the most part. As usual.

Opening a new research folder on this topic. Stay tuned.

IRIN reported on gang wars in Nairobi in October 2006.

The Kenyan government outlawed 18 “vigilante” groups in 2002, according to the UN High Commissioner on Refugees:

Amachuma and Chinkororo, another gang with roots in the Kisii community, “came into the limelight during the infamous 1992 politically-instigated clashes, the recent Gucha/Trans Mara border clashes and the hotly contested South Mugirango by-elections occasioned by the death of MP Enock Magara (The Nation 13 Mar. 2002).

On reports of “politically-instigated clashes,” see the KNHRC’s December 2007 report, “Still Behaving Badly” and the FIDH‘s report on internal displacement allegedly caused by “politically instigated ethnic violence.”

Minister of State in the Office of the President Julius Sunkuli outlawed the 18 “vigilante” groups and specifically named Mungiki, Jeshi la Mzee, Baghdad Boys, Sungu Sungu, Chinkororo, Amachuma, Dallas Muslim Youth, Banyamulenge, Talibans, Runyenjes Football Club, Jeshi la Kingole, Kaya Bombo Youth, Sakina Youth, Charo Shutu, Kuzacha Boys, Jeshi la Nazir, Kosovo Boys and Kamjesh (EAS 22 Aug. 2002; ibid. 9 Mar. 2002). Police Commissioner Philemon Abong’o stated that “‘[a]dherents to the groups will be arrested and charged in court'” (IRIN 14 Mar. 2002). He also ordered “provincial and formation commanders to carry out intensive operations throughout the country to crack down on members of all self-styled groups” (EAS 9 Mar. 2002).

Additional information on Amachuma could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

East African Standard (EAS). 22 August 2002. “Kenya: A-G Orders Arrest of Mungiki Followers.” (Africa News/NEXIS)

_____. 9 March 2002. “Kenya: Police Name Outlawed Groups.” (Africa News/NEXIS)

Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). 14 March 2002. “Kenya: Police Target Illegal Gangs after Kariobangi.” (Africa News/NEXIS)

The Nation. 13 March 2002. “Kenya: The Force Behind Terror Gangs.” (Africa News/NEXIS)

From

“‘I am a Refugee in My Own Country’: Conflict-Induced Internal Displacement in Kenya” (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, December 2006)

Internal displacement in Kenya is often traced to the onset of multi-party politics in the 1990s, though in some quarters it is linked to the effects of land alienation during colonial times. The Kenya African National Union (KANU), which ruled Kenya from independence in 1963 to 2002 as a de facto one-party state, is widely associated with instigating violence targeting sections of the population affiliated to or suspected of supporting opposition parties.

In particular, violence largely stemmed from a determination on behalf of KANU leaders to maintain a one-party political system of governance. As several politicians and church leaders made calls for an end to one-party rule and urged that term limits be imposed on the presidency, KANU leaders, notably from the Kalenjin and Maasi communities, responded with calls for “majimboism”, rule by ethnic majority according to region or “ethnic regionalism”. KANU politicians stated their intention to push through a Majimbo constitution, which would require all ‘outsiders’ in the Rift Valley to return to their “motherland”, according to a parliamentary committee which investigated ethnic clashes in 1992.

Against this backdrop of political and ethnic instigation, KANU youth groups and Kalenjin-associated groups perpetuated a cycle of violence resulting in the displacement of thousands. IDPs were forced to sell their land and property below market value, others abandoned everything, while those with share-holding certificates in land-buying companies were thrown out and their plots redistributed. By early 1993, the ethnic clashes ended, with over 1,500 people killed and an estimated 300,000 displaced and dis-possessed. IDPs had moved into displacement camps in church and school compounds, forests and in nearby towns, where they received humanitarian assistance from churches and mosques, local and international NGOs, the UN and the government.

While many local government leaders addressed public gatherings to warn citizens of potential violence, district officers who arrested perpetrators of violence were promptly transferred and the perpetrators released without being charged. In addition many local leaders were complicit in the violence that took place, and a number of these officials still hold government positions today.

On that report:

This report is based primarily on interviews conducted in Kenya in June 2006, as well as subsequent interviews which took place in Nairobi in August and September 2006. The report also draws upon prior research conducted on IDPs in Kenya. The report was written by Jesse Bernstein of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and Prisca Kamungi, consultant to the IDMC. The authors are grateful to the many individuals and organisations who provided their time and insights while the research was being conducted. In particular, the au-thors wish to thank Practical Action and representatives of the Kenya IDP Net-work, both of whom provided research assistance and facilitation. The authors also wish to express their gratitude to those who provided comments to a first draft of the report, including PeaceNet Kenya, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Kenya Land Alliance, the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru, and Professor Jacqueline Klopp of Columbia University.

Understanding Political Violence: Kenya and Zimbabwe in Comparative Perspective.
Author: Brown, Stephen
Journal: Conference Papers — International Studies Association
Pub.: 2007
Pages: 1(0)
Description: Language : English AN : 26960559

Facile assumptions are often made about the release of “pent-up antagonisms” in times of political liberalization in Africa. The phenomenon of “transition violence”, however, is often best understood as regime resistance to pluralism and democratization. In Kenya and Zimbabwe, the political violence that has accompanied democratization efforts shows great continuity with earlier repression during single-party rule. Changes in the international environment, however, increased the price of overt authoritarianism. In Kenya, the “ethnic clashes” (mainly 1990-1998) were essentially instances of state-sponsored repression of ethnic groups that generally supported multipartyism and opposition parties, but lived in pro-government areas. The regime had long used repression to contain dissent when cooptation has failed. However, increased scrutiny by international actors at the end of the Cold War forced the state to take an arm’s length and sponsor other actors (such as “tribal warriors”) to carry out the violence. In Zimbabwe, the latest phase of political violence — begun in 2000 with farm seizures, followed by attacks of farm workers, demolitions of urban slums, and youth gangs’ attacks on opposition parties — follows a logic that was established at the time of independence, if not before. The ruling party has alternated between co-opting and repressing its opponents. In recent years, violence has been carried out by “private” actors, such as so-called war veterans, and can appear superficially apolitical, but it is still best analyzed as a means for the ruling party to remain in power, while still presenting itself to the rest of Africa — if not the West — as a fostering a pluralist system. ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript

Donor-Induced Democratization and Privatization of State Violence in Kenya and Rwanda.
Author: Roessler, Philip G.
Journal: Comparative Politics
Pub.: 2005-01
Volume: 37
Issue: 2
Pages: 207(21)
ISSN: 00104159
Subject: POLITICAL science; PRIVATIZATION; VIOLENCE; DEMOCRATIZATION; KENYA; RWANDA
Description: Language : English AN : 15915272 African regimes’ repressive strategies changed during the post-1989 wave of democratization. Conventional methods of coercion–targeting of the opposition by the official security forces–were insufficient and costly in multiparty regimes. Democratization enfranchised the opposition and broadened the range of political challengers to include rural constituencies and entire ethnic groups. Furthermore, human rights abuses raised the threat of international sanctions at a much lower threshold than during the cold war. Rulers in Kenya and Rwanda responded by privatizing state violence. Privatized repression allowed them to neutralize widespread challenges, while distancing themselves from political violence to minimize friction with aid donors.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s