The battle for constitutional reform has become murderous and
the fall-out could split the Kibaki government
The killing of university don Crispin Odhiambo Mbai on 14 September has thrown President Mwai Kibaki's government into crisis. Kibaki's nine-month honeymoon is over as Mbai joins the pantheon of prominent political murder victims, which includes Foreign Minister Robert Ouko, Tom Mboya and J.M. Kariuki. Mbai's killing further undermines the shaky coalition between Kibaki's political forces and those of Luo leader and Public Works Minister Raila Odinga (AC Vol 44 No 11). Mbai was playing a key role in the tortuous negotiations over a new constitution and was a close ally of Odinga's. The government shows little sign of investigating the Mbai killing seriously. Few are convinced by the arrest of a Nigerian pastor on 23 September who is alleged to have masterminded the killing; instead, many see a link to the new political establishment. The Kibaki government's loss of credibility was crystallised by the sight of riot police from the General Service Unit, once President Daniel arap Moi's stormtroopers, beating up female students demonstrating against the murder as protestors brought Nairobi to a standstill. So serious is the fall-out from Mbai's murder, including loss of Western support (AC Vol 44 No 15), that we hear Kibaki has asked Odinga to quieten down the protests.
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