Kenyan police fired teargas and water cannons at protesters on Thursday as crowds continued to vent their anger over President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed re-election. “This is dictatorship now,” one protester shouted. (The Washington Post, free registration)
What the commentators said
“The murderous tribal violence that has spread through Kenya in recent days would be horrifying anywhere,” said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). “It is particularly tragic to see this happening in a country that seemed finally to be on the path to a democratic and economically sound future.” Three hundred people have already died—if Kibaki cares about his country, he’ll set aside personal ambition and renounce the election results.
“Maybe, just maybe,” Kibaki legitimately won re-election, said The Boston Globe in an editorial (free registration). But the only way to stop the violence is a thorough, honest recount “without the corruption and tribalism that have marked Kenyan politics since independence in 1963.” Kibaki has presided over “peaceful economic growth” and helped the U.S. fight terrorism—he mustn’t let a “tainted” election destroy five years of progress.
“Kenya isn’t supposed to be like this,” said Michela Wong in the British current-affairs magazine New Statesman. It has long been one of the “most stable democracies” in Africa—the only place safe enough to host several United Nations agencies. But the electoral contest between “Kibaki and the feisty opposition leader Raila Odinga, the closest in Kenyan history, has exposed an ethnic fissure whose depth was no secret to ordinary Kenyans.”