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News & views

Litotes outbreak in Kenya: not many dead

[10 March 2013] When four policemen were killed in a shooting during the Kenya elections, an aide of the winner Uhuru Kenyatta described the event with unfashionable understatement on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme as ‘unfortunate’. More than 1,000 people were killed during the previous Kenyan election, so maybe he figured that a bit of litotes would help to keep things calm.

It was heartening to see people queuing in their thousands and trekking for hours in the broiling heat to vote. Here, we’ve almost reached the stage of having to pay people to turn out. In the November council elections, one polling station in Newport, Wales stayed open for the whole of a (perishingly cold) day and not a single elector showed up. How long will it be before the Kenyans pick up on our doomy cynicism that elections don’t change anything? 

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