The top US envoy to Africa called the violence in Kenya “ethnic cleansing” and said on Wednesday Washington was reviewing its hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the country.
Jendayi Frazer said neither President Mwai Kibaki nor his chief rival, opposition leader Raila Odinga, is doing enough to stop the bloodshed that has claimed more than 800 lives since the disputed Dec 27 presidential election.
Frazer said the violence she saw during a visit earlier this month to the country’s western Rift Valley pitted the Kalenjin, who support Odinga and his Luo people, against Kibaki’s Kikuyu people.
“The first wave of this violence, it was primarily in the Rift Valley, and it was Kalenjin pushing out Kikuyu. But that may now be spreading to Kikuyus pushing out Luos and Kalenjins,” Frazer told reporters on the sidelines of an African Union summit.
“What I was talking about in terms of the ethnic cleansing that I saw was the immediate aftermath of the election, in which there was an organised effort to push people out of the Rift Valley.” Frazer said she did not consider the killings a genocide.
Kikuyus were the major victims of the first explosion of violence after the announcement that Kibaki had won the election, which the international community and election monitors agree was rigged.
Hundreds of Kikuyus have been killed, and members of the group account for more than half of the 255,000 chased from their homes, most in the Rift Valley.
The valley is the traditional home of the Kalenjin and Masai people. British colonisers seized large tracts of land to cultivate fertile farms there.
When much of that land was redistributed after independence in 1963, President Jomo Kenyatta flooded it with his Kikuyu people, instead of returning it to the Kalenjin and Masai.
Kikuyus, who are Kenya’s largest ethnic group, are also resented for their long-standing domination of politics and the economy.
Frazer said neither Kibaki nor Odinga, who says he won the election, have done enough to halt the violence. She said speeches made by both had proved counterproductive.