SECOND KENYAN OPPOSITION LEADER KILLED

Published: February 1, 2008
NAIROBI, Kenya —A second Kenyan opposition lawmaker was shot to death on Thursday, and riots immediately exploded in opposition strongholds.

The violence led to the postponement of talks being brokered by Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general. The current secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he would travel to Nairobi on Friday to help address the crisis.

The lawmaker who was killed, David Kimutai Too, was shot by a policeman in Eldoret, in the country’s volatile Rift Valley, where many people have been killed or have fled their homes.

Kenyan government officials were quick to say the latest killing was connected to an illicit love triangle. The opposition, however, called it an assassination.

“This is the part of the strategy to reduce the number of parliamentarians,” said Salim Lone, a spokesman for the top opposition leader, Raila Odinga.

Mr. Too was the second opposition lawmaker to be killed in two days, in escalating violence that has claimed more than 800 lives and is putting Kenya on the brink of disaster.

The trouble began with a disputed election in December, in which Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner despite widespread evidence of vote-rigging, and the violence has moved steadily across the country, town by town, death by death.

On Tuesday, Melitus Mugabe Were, a popular opposition member of Parliament, was dragged from his car and shot to death in his driveway by two armed thugs. The police are investigating closely, but Mr. Were’s friends and family say that he was not robbed and that the killing was a professional assassination.

Mr. Annan, who has emphasized that time is running out in Kenya, told reporters that because of what had happened “we have postponed this afternoon’s session and we will work all day tomorrow so that the leaders can attend to urgent matters.”

Mr. Ban said he would travel to Nairobi on Friday from an African Union summit in neighboring Ethiopia to help with the talks between the opposing political sides.

Mr. Too is a member of the Kalenjin ethnic group, which has supported the opposition. In the days after the election, Kalenjins swept across the countryside burning homes that belonged to Kikuyus, Mr. Kibaki’s ethnic group, and killing many of them. In one attack, a Kalenjin mob burned a church, killing up to 50 people hiding inside. Most of them were Kikuyu women and children.

Mr. Too’s killing seemed to send a shock wave of outrage and panic across Kenya.

In Kisumu, an opposition stronghold in the far west of Kenya, mobs of young men tore through the streets, burning tires, hurling rocks and blockading roads. They did not appear to accept the government’s explanation of the killing, and it seemed that even if Mr. Too’s death had nothing to do with the volatile political situation here, it was bound to be interpreted as being linked to the turmoil.

“We won’t believe what they say,” said Willis Omondi, a protester holding a sling for hurling rocks. “We know the government is involved. Kibaki’s government will never work in Kenya. We will paralyze them even if they kill our leaders.”

In Eldoret, the police clashed with protesters who had ringed the police station. Kenyan authorities said they had arrested the policeman who shot Mr. Too, but the crowd was demanding that the police hand him over.

According to government authorities, Mr. Too was driving in his car with a policewoman whose boyfriend was also a police officer. The boyfriend drove alongside them on a motorcycle and shot and killed both.

The Rift Valley, one of the most beautiful slices of Africa, has been the epicenter of Kenya’s postelection problems and is home to ethnic groups that have long felt others do not belong.

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Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse–Getty Images

Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga blocked a road in Kisumu, Kenya on Thursday.

Riots Follow Killing of Kenyan Legislator

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