Thursday, January 24, 2008

The News from This Side

The police have put the death count at 510 with nearly 250,000 people displaced, but the violence seems to have subsided in most areas of the country. Churches, NGOs and various businesses are donating resources and helping those who are homeless. Many organizations are stepping forward to call for peace and reconciliation.

In Nairobi things are relatively calm except in certain slums such as Kibera and Mathare. In these areas, protesters are held at bay on demonstration days by water canons, tear gas, and live bullets. Residents have resorted to destroying buildings and infrastructure and crime has increased exponentially. One of the largest churches in Nairobi, which was attended by the former President, was burned down, and residents of Kibera have destroyed the railway line running through the slum.

Banned protest rallies and demonstrations continue sporadically in downtown Nairobi. These protests are peaceful, but protesters are often dispersed with tear gas, and protest days are sometimes accompanied with business closings in the city centre and re-routing of public transportation.

On this side of the city, life continues as normal. Businesses and schools are all running and people are out and about shopping, running errands, and following their usual routine. The stores here are pretty much stocked, and I haven’t noticed any shortages.

Mediation with Kofi Annan began this week. The government and opposition have very different ideas, but most Kenyans seem hopeful that a resolution can be reached. The opposition wants the President to step down and is seeking new elections. Meanwhile, the government wants protests to stop and any election disputes to be resolved in the government appointed courts.

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