NAIROBI (Reuters) - World leaders had to accept some blame for the violence that rocked Kenya after a disputed December election, killing more than 1,000 people, the international Human Rights Watch group said on Monday.
“Foreign governments should remember that decades of turning a blind eye to corruption, impunity and mismanagement by Kenya’s governments has contributed to the recent crisis,” the U.S.-based group said in a report.
The world was shocked at the bloodshed in Kenya, previously seen as a haven of stability on a volatile continent, and many leaders helped pressure President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga into a February 28 power-sharing pact.
Human Rights Watch accused police of causing “hundreds” of deaths by using excessive force during the two-month crisis in the East African country, especially in opposition strongholds like the town of Kisumu.
Fleeing children had been shot, the group said in its 88-page report.
Lethal force was used quickly in opposition areas but restraint was shown towards pro-government supporters, it said.
The crisis was Kenya’s worst since independence from Britain in 1963 and damaged its reputation as a prosperous trade and tourism hub. Kenya is East Africa’s biggest economy.
Human Rights Watch blamed successive post-independence governments for failing to address land and poverty issues at the root of the violence.
“Much of the ethnic-based violence was organized by local leaders, politicians and businessmen from all sides, according to eyewitnesses,” it said.
Editing by Ralph Gowling