In Kenya, opposition leaders have vowed to hold a massive rally Thursday to protest what they called the fraudulent re-election of President Mwai Kibaki. The government has banned the rally in Nairobi and many fear it could worsen a wave of post-election violence that has already killed more than 300 people.
In Washington, Kenyans from many parts of the United States demonstrated Wednesday in front of the Kenyan Embassy, the White House, and the State Department.
Jack Obongo is one of the organizers of the rallies. He told VOA the protesters want the United States to support an independent review of the election results so that what he called the truly elected president of Kenya can be sworn in.
“The purpose of this demonstration is to protest events going on in Kenya right now because our electoral process has been assaulted by the incumbent government of President Mwai Kibaki. We just had elections recently on December 27, 2007, which were marred by a lot of irregularities, and these have been documented by the European Union observer team, which said the poll was not meeting regional or international standard. So we are here in Washington, D.C. demonstrating and expressing our dissatisfaction with the electoral process. And we are also calling for peace because there is already violence in Kenya at the moment,” he said.
Obongo said the elections were rigged in favor of incumbent President Kibaki.
“We are actually protesting because we know that Raila Odinga was elected the president of Kenya. We want the incumbent president who was illegitimately sworn in to step down and hand over power to the duly elected president of Kenya who is Raila Odinga,” Obongo said.
He said the demonstrators also had an important message for President Bush and the U.S. government.
“We believe that as the leader of democracy in the world, the United States government can actually put pressure on the illegitimate government of Mwai Kibaki and make sure that an independent audit and scrutiny of the election results is done so that the truly elected leader who we believe is Raila Odinga is determined and then he can be sworn in as president of Kenya because our fear is that if the United States of America doesn’t take an active role in this then we might lose credibility of the electoral process in Kenya. Once that happens, then it opens avenues for alternative routes to power like a military coup, and we are afraid. We don’t want that route in Africa. We have a history of many military coups which have destabilized the entire region,” he said.
The protesters also held another rally earlier Wednesday in front of the Kenyan Embassy in Washington.