- The Washington Times - Friday, February 1, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — A policeman gunned down an opposition lawmaker yesterday in an attack officials described as a crime of passion. Protesters burned houses in revenge, convinced it was an assassination in a nation gripped by ethnic fighting since a disputed election.

Police said David Too was shot by a police officer who discovered the lawmaker was having an affair with his girlfriend. A woman shot in the same attack also died, a hospital official said.

Mr. Too was the second anti-government legislator killed in a week; opposition politicians said both were victims of assassination plots. A family spokesman accused the police of a cover-up, saying the lawmaker was not involved with the woman and had feared for his safety.

“Too had expressed fears that his life was in danger, especially during the campaign period as he crisscrossed the constituency to seek votes,” said Julius Langat.

Thousands of people from Mr. Too’s Kalenjin ethnic group sought revenge by setting houses on fire and blocking roads with rocks on the outskirts of the western town of Kericho, near the slain lawmaker’s constituency. Other tribes took refuge at the police station. Similar violence broke out in other towns.

Kenya has been embroiled in ethnic violence since President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the Dec. 27 election and opposition candidate Raila Odinga rejected the result, saying the vote was rigged.

Much of the bloodshed has pitted other tribes, including Mr. Odinga’s Luo, against Mr. Kibaki’s Kikuyu people. Kikuyus, Kenya’s largest ethnic group, long have been resented for their dominance of the economy and politics. Western Kenya’s Rift Valley has seen some of the worst violence.

Mr. Odinga said he wants a new election, while Mr. Kibaki made clear he will not negotiate his position as president. In Nairobi, negotiators from the two camps began the first day of talks mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Too’s death came two days after another opposition lawmaker, Mugabe Were, was fatally shot as he drove to his house in suburban Nairobi, setting off more violence in the capital’s slums and in western regions.

Opposition Orange Democratic Movement Secretary-General Anyang Nyongo said there is “an evil scheme” to kill legislators and rob the opposition of its majority in parliament. Legislative elections held the same day as the presidential vote gave the opposition 99 parliament seats to 43 for Mr. Kibaki’s party.

Mr. Were and Mr. Too would have been freshmen lawmakers.

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer, said Wednesday that she saw the violence as ethnic cleansing. But the State Department backed away from her statement, saying Washington has not yet concluded whether such atrocities have been committed.

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