Catholic political leader murdered in Kenyan upheaval

Slain Catholic politician Melitus Mugabe Were
Slain Catholic politician Melitus Mugabe Were


A Catholic opposition politician is one of the latest victims of the Kenyan violence that began after contested elections in December, the Catholic Information Service for Africa (CISA) reports.
Melitus Mugabe Were, 40, was sworn in as Member of Parliament only two weeks ago for the Embakasi district, Nairobi’s most populous constituency.  He was shot and killed by unknown attackers outside the gate of his house after just after midnight on Monday.
Were, a former student at Kiserian Seminary in Nairobi, helped found the National Catholic Youth Center in Nairobi in December of 1988.  He studied social communications at the Gregorian in Rome and later worked with disadvantaged youth in a suburb of Nairobi.

A close friend of Were described him to CISA as an intelligent and hardworking activist who defended Catholic teaching.  The friend said that Were had made enemies in the course of his activism, even receiving death threats.

President Mwai Kibaki condemned Were’s killing, ordering police to launch immediate investigations to ensure the perpetrators are caught.

Were’s belonged to the political party called the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The head of ODM, Raila Odinga, has been the most vocal opponent of President Mwai Kibaki, claiming that the recent voting keeping Kibaki in office was rigged.

Odinga called Melitus Were’s killing “an assassination targeted at reducing the party’s majority in Parliament. We ask our supporters to mourn Were peacefully.

Were’s death also sparked angry protests in Nairobi and other parts of Kenya, leading to more than 22 dead, according to AFP.

Formal talks between the Kenyan government and ODM were scheduled to begin Tuesday afternoon.  Mediated by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, both sides are required to commit themselves to the arbitration and its outcome.

The former UN chief said he hoped the immediate political issues could be resolved within a month and gave Kenya one year to resolve damage inflicted by a month of chaos in which almost 1,000 people have died.

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