Kenya. The bloody aftermath of the 2007 presidential election dominated the 2009 New Year in Kenya. Nearly 1,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were driven away from their homes when the kikuyu and luo ethnic groups at the beginning of 2008 rallied in violence that was fueled by politicians and businessmen. In February Parliament rejected a government proposal to set up a special court to investigate the main suspects. The majority justified the decision that they did not trust the domestic judiciary and that the issues should be raised at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
According to countryaah, former UN chief Kofi Annan, who mediated the conflict, threatened to hand over a list to the ICC with the names of the leading suspects unless Kenya created a special court within a reasonable time. He later gave the country a deadline until the end of August, but since the government informed the ICC in July that such a court could not stand until mid-2010, Annan sent the secret name list to The Hague. Then the government announced that it had scrapped the plans of a special court. Instead, the domestic judiciary and the police would be reformed, and then the question of responsibility for the wave of violence would be handed over to the usual local courts. It caused a stir among those who had hoped for a special court, where at least some of the judgments would have been taken from abroad.
Public confidence in Kenya’s police force is very weak. During the riots in early 2008, police are suspected to have killed hundreds of people. Human rights groups believe that the country cannot become a rule of law without a fundamental police reform. In September, the government responded to the criticism and replaced most senior police officers. The ICC announced in November that the court would quickly address the Kenyan issues and that the first trials could start in 2010.
In January, President Mwai Kibaki wrote under a heavily criticized media law that gives the police the right to search the house for news editions, intercept journalists’ phones and monitor broadcasts in the media. In September, Kibaki extended an order for Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Aaron Ringera. Prime Minister Raila Odinga felt that Ringera had not done anything important and should be replaced, and Parliament refused to approve the appointment. Since Ringera took office in 2002, not a single senior official has been convicted of corruption. The conflict ended with Ringera opting to resign voluntarily.
Serious unrest in April shook the city of Karatina in central Kenya, where residents clashed with the mafia-like sect Mungiki, accused of both a series of murders and of extortion. Mungiki’s leader Maina Njenga was indicted, but released six months later for lack of evidence.
In August, the first census of ten years began; a sensitive issue in a country where ethnic affiliation has proven to be of great importance. The result of the 1999 census was never published.
In September, the authorities began demolishing the Nairobi neighborhood of Kagera, Africa’s largest slum area with about one million residents. Within five years, everyone should have moved to newly built housing.