Democracy Solves All Problems
The Bush administration has made promoting democracy - interpreted mainly as free and fair elections - as the centerpiece of US foreign policy. To that end it has encouraged the disaster currently unfolding in Pakistan, elected Hamas to power in Gaza, prodded Egypt to let the Muslim Brotherhood into the political process and turned studiously ignored the implications of Latin American voters electing ever more vehement leftists to national office. To the growing list of countries where elections ("democracy" in Bush-speak) may be making a bad situation worse, now add Kenya, a nation whose political and racial fissures may be on the brink of eruption.
Dozens of people, many of them children, were killed when a mob set fire to a Kenyan church today, as the crisis over the disputed re-election of the country's president escalated.Clearly another example of a people with a "desire for freedom" in their hearts. Contrary to the intellectual pretensions of Mr. Bush and his acolytes, not all cultures - or peoples - possess the same intellectual resources or temperaments, value the same things, or share the same idea of "freedom."
The Red Cross said at least 50 people died as they sought refuge in the church from the violence that has broken out since Sunday's vote.
The blaze occurred in Eldoret almost 200 miles from the capital Nairobi. One local reporter who visited the scene told Reuters: "I saw about 10 to 15 bodies crammed in a corner. They were charred. I could not look at the scene twice."
Reuters quoted a senior security official claiming that as many 15,000 people were sheltering at churches and police stations in Eldoret.
As the violence spread, the government sought to ban a mass opposition rally against Mwai Kibaki's continued rule.
The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, yesterday called for a million people to take to the streets on Thursday to protest at what is widely regarded as a rigged election.
But the authorities said they wanted to block the demonstration to prevent more of the violence that has already led to the deaths of more than 220 people.
Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told Reuters: "The ban on political rallies is not without reason."
He added: "When people are daring enough to commit crimes against other people's lives and property, it is not likely the police can also have the capacity to organise security properly."
The police said that, as well as the rising death toll, the crisis had seen 33,500 Kenyans forced to leave their homes and 208 properties destroyed.
The bloodshed has exposed underlying tribal tension in Kenya, where Kibaki's Kikuyu supporters - members of Kenya's largest ethnic group - are accused of turning their dominance of politics and business to the detriment of others. Odinga is from the Luo tribe.
The Red Cross said gangs were even checking on the tribal affiliations of aid workers trying to help the injured.
In Nairobi's Mathare slum, Odinga supporters torched a minibus and attacked Kikuyu travellers, witnesses said.
Riots have also been raging in opposition strongholds in western Kenya, the tourism-dependent coast and the Rift valley.