At least 30 people in Western Kenya were killed after an angry mob set fire to a church where some 200 villagerss were taking refuge from ethnic-violence.
A local reporter told the Associated Press that youths came to the church and fought with boys guarding it, " but they were overpowered," said the reporter. He says he saw up to 15 bodies. "They were charred, I could not look at the scene twice," he said.
Witnesses say more 200 members of the Kikuyu tribe, of which Kenyan President Kibaki belongs, had fled to the church to escape attacks by the dominant Kalenjin tribe near the city of Eldoret. The incident is reminiscent of tactics used in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, and is the latest example of a country imploding, since the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki last weekend. Reports of violence against Kikuyus all over the country are surfacing as many of Kenya's 42 tribes take out their anger on what they feel were rigged elections.
European Union election observers have called for an independent investigation into the allegations of vote rigging in Kenya's presidential election, giving President Mwai Kibaki a second term.
The results have led to mass rioting and violence throughout the country, leaving more than 200 people dead since Thursday
"General elections in the Republic of Kenya have fallen short of key international and regional standards for democratic elections," the observation team said in a statement today. Calling the results "marred by a lack of transparency" in the vote tallying process, the team said the results could not be considered accurate.
Chief EU observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told reporters at a press conference today that while election observers were allowed access to the actual voting process, they were denied observation of the votes being tallied. Presidential challenger Raila Odinga and his party the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), allege that the final vote numbers were tampered with to ensure President Kibaki's re-election.
The EU observers noted discrepancies between the final presidential votes announced by the Election Commission of Kenya in Nairobi and the numbers given at individual polling stations. Lambsdorff said an independent investigation is needed to legitimatize Kibaki's re-election.
"We believe it is vital that an impartial investigation into the accuracy of the presidential results is conducted, and the results from all polling stations are published to enable an independent audit to be carried out," said Lambdorff.
Though initially congratulating President Kibaki on his re-election, State Department spokesman Tom Casey released a statement yesterday stating that "the United States has concerns about irregularities in reporting the results, which should be resolved promptly through constitutional and legal remedies." Casey called on both parties to find a way to end the violence.
But neither President Kibaki nor Raila Odinga seems willing to budge. In a New Year's address to the nation last night, President Kibaki said the elections were "free and fair" and that security forces would crack down on those who challenge "peace."
For his part, Raila Odinga is determined not to concede and talks to the press daily. Yesterday he said President Kibaki was a "dictator," saying he was better than Ugandan despot Idi Amin for "stealing" the election from Kenyans. Today he told reporters that he predicted that the death toll would rise to at least 250 people.
Odinga is calling for a million protesters to attend a mass rally on Thursday in Nairobi, demanding that Kibaki step down. But the government has already declared the rally illegal, which could lead to Odinga's arrest, causing more bloodshed.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS CRITICIZE KENYA Human rights organizations have also expressed alarm at the Kenyan government's recent actions. Immediately after President Kibaki's swearing in Sunday evening, the government imposed a ban on all local broadcasts, and warned stations not to air any footage that could be seen as "inciting or alarming," or they would be shut down.
The order has no deadline. The most accurate footage of happenings around the country can now be seen primarily on foreign news programs such as the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera. Press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders issued a statement condemning the ban, calling it a black out on local media.
"The news blackout could result in the streets being ruled by rumor and disinformation," it said. "This decision is therefore counter-productive, inasmuch as it constitutes a de facto ban on all news programs, it imposes a climate of intimidation and plunges the country into confusion." The group is calling on the government to work with media executives and editors to left the ban. The head of Kenya's Media Council, which regulates the press, also called the ban "draconian."
Amnesty international is calling for an investigation of police activity during the unrest. The human rights organization says it's concerned about reports of police shoot-to-kill orders and the large number of bodies being brought into morturaries around the country with bullet wounds. Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International's Africa Programme Director said that, "Those responsible for human rights abuses should be brought to justice without undue delay." He called for an independent investigation into police abuses and said that any security force crack down on peaceful protesters is in violation of international law. " …the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly… are guaranteed by Kenya's Constitution and the international human rights treaties to which Kenya is a party," said van der Bor.
International media has also condemned the election results and the government's behavior. An editorial in the U.K. newspaper "The Daily Telegraph" today called for President Kibaki to be treated as any other African dictator and face sanctions and expulsion from the British common wealth.
A spokesman for the Kenyan government was not available for comment.