Despite violence Kenya is non-genocidal

As the violence in Kenya continues to spiral and various media outlets are murmuring about a possible genocide on the horizon, the second of two Kenyan MPs has been shot. The first, Mugabe Were, was shot earlier this week in a suburb of Nairobi, while yesterday David Kimutai Too (both from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM)) was gunned down by a traffic cop in the town of Eldoret.

This latest killing has brought former Kofi Annan’s newly brokered political talks to a halt.

The latest killing was a setback for Annan’s peacemaking efforts. Six negotiators – three representing Kibaki and three representing the opposition leader, Raila Odinga – had met in the morning before postponing an afternoon session.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, may also intervene by visiting Kenya tomorrow, according to diplomatic sources. Ban, who is in Ethiopia for an African Union summit, would support Annan’s efforts.

Odinga has said he wants a new election, while Kibaki has made clear he will not negotiate his position as president. Annan has said it could take a month to resolve the immediate dispute, and a year to deal with long-standing ethnic animosities and land disputes that have fed the violence.

While many of those who are watching the violence unfold have been likening this escalation to Rwanda, it’s important to note that the differences between the two countries are vivid enough as to put the immediate threat of genocide on the back burner. Even though the underlying animosity that’s fueling such widespread outbreaks is due to a disparity of land in a post-colonial African nation, the salient detail to watch is how the rest of the population is reacting.

As Voice of America was reporting this morning:

Kenyans have unanimously demanded an end to escalating violence sparked by the December 27 disputed elections. A group comprising civil society and ordinary Kenyans from all ethnicities gathered in the capital Nairobi Wednesday to express their dissatisfaction with the ongoing violence, which is blamed for a loss of lives and property and is threatening the country’s stability. The demonstrators also demanded that opposition leader Raila Odinga and embattled President Mwai Kibaki find a solution to the elections dispute as they continue with negotiations mediated by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

It’s this reaction — demonstrations against violence — which is markedly different from the escalation of violence in 1994 Rwanda or the on-going crisis in Darfur.