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Kenya: Ethnic fighting between Kikuyu and Kalenjin in the Rift Valley (1998-1999)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 3 August 1999
Citation / Document Symbol KEN32456.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kenya: Ethnic fighting between Kikuyu and Kalenjin in the Rift Valley (1998-1999), 3 August 1999, KEN32456.E, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Ethnic clashes between Kikuyu and the Kalenjin in the Rift Valley province were reported in1998 (Human Rights Watch 8 Apr. 1998; IPS 9 Apr. 1998). In April 1998 a human rights coalition composed of officials from Amnesty International, Article 19, and Human Rights Watch observed that  government "systematically failed to investigate and punish armed aggressors, and to protect frightened, angry  and displaced people" and "expressed fears that the supporters of the ruling party are instigating political violence, but blaming the incidents on spontaneous outbursts of ethnic hatred" (ibid.).

According to New African, "the massacres of the Kikuyus by Kalenjin warriors in Lakipia and Nakuru districts of the Rift Valley in January and February claimed more than 100 lives" (Apr. 1998). In an effort to curb the violence, which first broke out in February 1998, President Moi reportedly declared a dusk to dawn curfew on Nakuru, the main town in the Rift Valley (IPS 9 Apr. 1998; New African Apr. 1998), and accused the  "business and local authorities of a particular community" living in Nakuru of fomenting the  violence (IPS 9 Apr. 1998). However,  a member of the delegation from Human Rights Watch found both sides "polarized and talking of fighting" (ibid.). This information is corroborated by an April 1998 New African report which states that "Kikuyu leaders have threatened to arm their people to defend themselves against future raids, killings, rape, looting, and the widespread destruction of property."  However, 42 Kenya National Union (KANU), the ruling party, members of parliament from the Rift Valley "alleged the violence was a wider nefarious scheme being hatched by the DP to bring down the government of President Moi. They accuse the Kikuyu of killing their own kin and then blaming the Kalenjin warriors" (ibid.).

Similar clashes were reported in the Rift Valley between 1992 and 1994 (IPS 9 Apr. 1998). The clashes are reportedly politically motivated and aim to force the Kikuyu, the main supporters of the opposition Democratic Party (DP), from Njoro and Laikipia, in the Rift Valley. The majority of the people in these locations are reportedly Kalenjin, who form President Moi's  main support base (ibid.).

In July 1998 President Moi reportedly appointed a commission of inquiry into "repeated ethnic clashes" including those in the Rift Valley and the Coastal region (ARB July 1998). The commission is still hearing evidence (The Nation 23 Mar. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please see the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Africa Research Bulletin [London]. 7 July 1998. Vol. 35. No. 7. "Kenya: Tribal Violence Inquiry."

Human Rights Watch [New York]. 8 April 1998. "Kenya: Urgent Need for Action on Human Rights." (NEXIS)

Inter Press Service (IPS) [Nairobi]. 9 April 1998. Moyiga Nduru. "Human Rights-Kenya: Heavy Cloud of Violence Looms, Coalition Says." (NEXIS)

The Nation [Nairobi]. 23 March 1999. Michal Nuguna and Mark Agutu. "Kenya: Ethnic Violence Claimed 36 Lives in Two Years -Inquiry Told." (Africa News/NEXIS)

New African [London]. "Kenya: Ethnic Showdown Looms."

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential [London]. January 1998 - December 1999. Vols. 37-38. Nos. 1-25.

Africa Research Bulletin: Political, Social and Cultural Series [Oxford]. 1998. Vol. 35. Nos. 1-12.

Amnesty International. 1998. Amnesty International Report 1998. New York: Amnesty International USA.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998 1999 United States Department of State. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Press.

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. January 1998-January 1999. Monthly. Vols. 44-45.

Electronic sources: IRB databases, Internet, LEXIS/NEXIS, World Network Connection (WNC)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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