new report says Kenya's coalition government has failed to support peace
efforts to heal ethnic divisions. Violence after last December's disputed
elections led to the deaths of well over one thousand people and the
displacement of thousands of others.
Minority Rights Group International briefing paper outlines conditions in Kenya
six months after a power-sharing agreement. It says tens of thousands of people
remain displaced or are living in what it describes as "miserable conditions"
in transit camps.
Matheson is the group's head of policy and communication.
the violence in Kenya has obviously subsided and the atmosphere is calmer, the
underlying problems in Kenya are very far from being solved. And in particular,
the efforts that the government has put into building bridges between their
communities on the ground in the wake of the terrible ethnic violence really
haven't been sufficient," she says.
says ethnic tensions continue to simmer despite the outward calm.
concerned that unless there is a proper comprehensive peace-building program
rolled out across the country, that the seeds for the kind of conflict that we
saw at the beginning of the year are still there and may yet lead to further
conflict," she says.
the height of the violence, Minority Rights Group International, or MRG, says
more than 400,000 people were displaced and 1500 people killed. Matheson says
the "crucible of the violence" was in Kenya's Northern Rift Valley.
pitted a group called the Kalenjins against the Kikuyus. The Kalenjins there
regard themselves as the traditional occupiers of the land there and they see
the Kikuyus there as people who have come in and settled on their land. The
Kikuyus traditionally are the group, which have dominated Kenya economically
since independence. So, there was a lot of simmering resentment there," she
Kikuyus supported President Mwai Kibaki, while the Kalenjins favored Raila
Odinga, who's now prime minister.
ethnic groups were also the targets of violence, such as the forest-dwelling
to their cultural tradition, they don't move into IDP (internally displaced
persons) camps. They attempt as best they can to look after those who have been
made homeless within their own community. And that basically meant that they
slipped through the net and that they didn't get access to any official help,"
power-sharing agreement brokered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
brought a political solution. But MRG says the agreement's provisions have yet
to be fully carried out.
of them is a constitutional review. Kenya has been trying for nearly two
decades to try and get a new constitution – a more inclusive, a more equal
constitution. That's back on the table again and we very much welcome that
process. There's also an effort to get a truth and justice and reconciliation
commission going, looking at historical injustices related to land and related
to economic crimes. Again, we very much welcome that," she says.
says in order for these efforts to be "truly inclusive," they have to reach out
to all segments of Kenyan society. This includes minority and indigenous
peoples. She says while Kenya officially recognizes 42 ethnic groups, the
actual number is over 70.
The Minority Rights Group International report is
entitled Kenya: Six Months On – A New beginning or Business as Usual.