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Leaflets Urge Kenyan Youth to Rise Up Against Government

For the second time in two weeks, the widespread distribution of leaflets urging Kenyans to rise up against the government has put Kenyan authorities on high alert. From Nairobi, VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu has details.

The latest batch of leaflets turned up late Wednesday in downtown Nairobi and in some towns on the outskirts of the capital.

Written in English, the leaflets urge Kenyans to rise up and take control of the country. They say the government of President Mwai Kibaki has failed to fulfill promises it made when it took power in 2002.

The leaflets express anger and outrage over Kenya's high unemployment rate, especially among young people, and accuse the country's minister of internal security, John Machuki, of compromising the country's security by employing thousands of members of a banned sect called the Mungiki as security officers.

"There were some papers which were distributed yesterday," said Joseph Wanjohi, a personal assistant to Minister Machuki. "He has them now. He has not commented on it personally."

Similarly worded anti-government leaflets were found across three provinces in Kenya two weeks ago. The leaflets caused panic because the authors were believed to members of the Mungiki, formed in the late 1980s as a secret religious, quasi political group. It has since evolved into a mafia-like criminal organization.

The Mungiki, whose membership draws entirely from Kenya's largest tribe called the Kikuyu, has been most active during election years and this year has been no exception.

Kenya is scheduled to hold presidential elections in December. Since February, the group is believed to have carried out numerous violent crimes, including kidnappings and beheadings, in Nairobi and in parts of central and eastern provinces.

Many Kenyans believe that the Mungiki count politicians among its supporters - even among its ranks - and that some politicians are using the Mungiki to create fear and intimidate voters. In recent days, the police have arrested several members of parliament on charges of being associated with the sect.

The latest leaflets, accusing the country's internal security minister of having ties to the Mungiki, have caused confusion about who is really behind the call for public rebellion.

The official spokesman for the Kenyan police, Eric Kiraithe, tells VOA that a major police investigation is under way.

"We warn everybody [that] anybody attempting to create violence will only have themselves to blame," he said. "That is a criminal offense and we are taking it to the seriousness it deserves."

Despite earlier promises to step down, President Kibaki is expected to run for a second five-year term in December.