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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Fight for Democracy in Kenya Continues - Guest Post

Dear Friends,

If you have been following the news from Kenya , then you know that our country is at an important crossroads. The fate of democracy in Kenya will likely be decided in the coming months, if not weeks. Mwai Kibaki, the current and illegitimate president, is desperately attempting to solidify his grasp on power even as the opposition has defeated his strong arm tactics in the parliament and continues to win the battle for public opinion on the streets, on the web, and on the airwaves. The majority of Kenyans are demanding one of two things: that Kibaki step down immediately or that a new election be held. The Coalition of Kenyans and Allies for Democracy is committed to representing the interests of Kenyans. We, therefore, join our brethren in making these demands.

Although a new election remains possible, the results of such an election will not be credible as long as the government continues to suppress freedom of expression. Toward this end, CKAD demands that UN troops be deployed throughout Kenya to protect the populace from the brutality of Kenyan police, organized gangs, and foreign military elements. In light of numerous reports of the presence of the Ugandan military in Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces and due to the high death toll of residents credited to Kenyan police in these areas, CKAD demands that special attention in the deployment of UN troops be given to these areas. We cannot allow the police and other elements to disenfranchise Kenyans of their vote again through the use of intimidation or force. A new election will lack legitimacy unless it is conducted in an atmosphere of democracy--that is, where freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press are restored and respected by all levels of government. CKAD will, therefore, continue to demand that Kibaki step down until these conditions are met and the mechanisms for conducting a new, free, and independently monitored election are put in place.

We believe that the tide of public opinion is on the side of democracy. With your help, we hope to channel the energy of this tide toward a victory for the people of Kenya .

Despite the United State's deafness to the "made in Kenya" solutions that Kenyans are screaming and, in too many cases, dying for--that is, despite America's obliviousness to the majority consensus that Kibaki must step down or that a new and independently monitored election must be held--international support for democracy in Kenya is gathering steam. In a unanimous vote, the European Union Parliament declared yesterday that if a "credible and fair recount" is impossible, then a new election must be held. This international body, which represents twenty-seven countries, also voted to freeze aid to Kenya "until a political resolution to the present crisis has been found." Unfortunately, this resolution is nonbinding. It is, therefore, up to us to demand, even more loudly, that Kibaki step down or that a new, independently monitored election be held once democracy is restored.

We call on the EU and other western powers to put the funds that would have gone toward aid to the Kibaki government toward a new election. We also call on all Kenyans in the diaspora to contribute to this effort.

Our demand that either Kibaki resign immediately or a new and independently monitored election be held as quickly and in as democratic a fashion as possible is necessitated by the deplorable record on human rights and respect for democracy that Kibaki and his government officials have amassed since illegally seizing power. In Kisumu, Kenyan police shot live bullets at protesters, killing at least forty-four people last week and twenty-one in the past few days. Police have also beaten or whipped people who were simply commuting to and from work—an embarrassing sight for all Kenyans and for the black community, in general. On a national level, Kenyan police have been responsible for more than half of the 700 deaths attributed to election-related violence. Among the dead are women and children. Witnesses report that police have even killed those who were not taking part in demonstrations. Joseph Karoki blogs about one such Kenyan, James Odhiambo. This young man, the sole bread-winner for his family, was shot by police while walking to work.

Truthfully, all Kenyans are victims of this national injustice, of Kibaki's derailment and destruction of democracy.

As a signatory to the petition "Kibaki Must Step Down," you have already played an important part in ensuring the survival of democracy in Kenya . The time has come, however, when we must either accept the demise of Kenya 's fragile democracy or stand in solidarity with those who are breathing life back into that democracy through nonviolent mass action.

Please send this email to as many people as you can and ask them to sign the petition "Kibaki Must Step Down." We must all take ownership of the fate of democracy in Kenya . We are calling on you and everyone you know to promote this petition anywhere and everywhere that you can. We will not rest until the number of people standing up for democracy in Kenya grows exponentially worldwide.

For more information about CKAD, please visit our blog at http://kenyansfordemocracy.blogspot.com/. The petition "Kibaki Must Step Down" can be signed at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/kibaki-must-step-down.html We are at over 14,000 signatures and counting…

Asanteni sana,

Annah, Tavia, Philister
Coalition of Kenyans and Allies for Democracy

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