All eyes on Kenya

There are fears of post-election violence as Kenya heads to the polls today to elect a new president.

08 August 2017 | Africa

An estimated 180 000 policemen and members of the security forces are being deployed across Kenya as the country prepares to vote on Tuesday in a fiercely contested presidential election.

Voters in the east African nation will either give the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, who has been in power since 2013, a second term or elect veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga.

The country is braced for widespread unrest whoever wins, after a campaign marred by hundreds of violent incidents – including the murder of a high-profile election official – issues with new voting technology and widespread concerns over fraud.

A contested poll in 2007 led to more than a thousand deaths, and violence could sweep the country again if the losing party refuses to accept the result.

Kenyatta, 55, called for calm at a church service near his home in Nairobi on Sunday. “Do not allow anything to drive a wedge between you. You have been good neighbours and I urge you to remain so regardless of your tribe, religion or political affiliation,” the president said.

Thousands have been leaving the main cities to head to their home towns to wait out the aftermath of the poll in relative safety. Others have been stocking up on provisions in case of trouble. Streets have emptied, and business has slowed.

“Normally I fill up my matatu (minibus taxi) in 15 minutes but today I’ve been waiting three hours. It’s a disaster. People are fleeing,” said Willy Fiyukundi, a conductor at Nairobi’s central bus station.

Human rights officials, community leaders and politicians have called on voters to “control their emotions and preserve a peaceful environment” when the final results are released.

Mbogori said the KNCHR was concerned about “cowardly leaflets” threatening candidates and warning voters “of certain ethnic origins to flee or else” circulating in local campaigns. She also called on security personnel to avoid the use of excessive force. In 2007, many casualties were the result of police using live ammunition against protesters.

Local contests for appointments as governors, members of the lower house, senators, county officials and women’s representatives involve 16 000 candidates and are seen as potential flashpoints.

In Mathare, a poor area of Nairobi, several people were wounded and one killed over the weekend as rival supporters clashed with machetes and guns.

Nineteen million voters, half of whom are under 35, have been registered. Prisoners are able to vote for the first time. Recent opinion polls have not indicated any clear leader in the campaign and turnout will be a key factor.

Political allegiance in Kenya often reflects ethnic identity. Kenyatta’s Jubilee Alliance is largely supported by Kenya’s larger Kikuyu and Kalenjin tribes, while Odinga has a following among the country’s smaller communities, such as the Luo.

At a church in a middle-class neighbourhood in eastern Nairobi where Kenyatta prayed and sang on Sunday morning, worshippers said tribal differences were “very small” among Kenyans.

“We sing here in all the languages of our country. Our pastor has been telling us there will be peace so we are not worried,” said Daniel Mwangi, a church official.

Observers see the election as the last showdown of a dynastic rivalry between the families of Kenyatta, 55, and Odinga, 72, that has lasted more than half a century.

Odinga is taking his making his fourth attempt to gain power. He claims that elections in 2007 and 2013 were stolen from him.

Kenyatta would be constitutionally barred from a third term if victorious this time while Odinga would be prevented by age and previous failures from mounting a further challenge in 2022.

Both candidates are so certain of victory, that Nic Cheeseman, professor of African politics at Birmingham University, warns they may have “talked themselves into a corner” in which defeat is not an option.

“The question is not whether or not they will accept the result but what they will do when they don’t accept it,” he told AFP news agency.

A new biometric system of voter identification and counting was introduced after the 2007 election but partially failed in 2013.

Odinga claimed there was vote rigging, however he took his complaints to the courts instead of the streets and despite some rioting after he lost his case, the process ended peacefully.

Fears surrounding the new system were raised last week when the poll commission’s chief IT manager, Chris Msando, was found strangled and tortured in a forest on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Msando, a high-profile figure who had made frequent media appearances, had access to all the new system’s secret passwords and codes.

Last week it was revealed that patchy mobile phone coverage means around a quarter of machines will not be able to relay crucial information in realtime. The announcement prompted considerable anxiety.

Observers say preventing unrest after the poll depends on disappointed voters being confident there has been no vote rigging.

The Guardian

Similar News

 

Low-key Mugabe bash

3 days ago - 22 February 2018 | Africa

Zimbabwe's ex-president Robert Mugabe is reportedly not going to have his regular extravagant birthday celebrations this year despite the 21st of February being declared a...

Tsvangirai welcomed home

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Africa

Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe's main airport on Saturday as the body of opposition icon Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in neighbouring South Africa, arrived home...

MDC leadership battle is on

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Africa

The family of Zimbabwe's late opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has been caught up in the party's succession battle.Family members this...

Maputo sees water rationing

1 week ago - 16 February 2018 | Africa

Mozambique authorities on Wednesday introduced water rationing to more than a million residents in the capital Maputo due to a severe drought.The city is cutting...

Champion of Zimbabwe

1 week ago - 16 February 2018 | Africa

Morgan Tsvangirai, 65, who has died after a battle with cancer, was the face of Zimbabwe's downtrodden opposition for decades.Jail, beatings by pro-regime thugs and...

Righting land-grab wrongs

1 week ago - 14 February 2018 | Africa

The Zimbabwean government has reportedly set up a committee that will spearhead the process of compensating white farmers whose farms where seized during the country's...

Kenyan crackdown continues

2 weeks ago - 05 February 2018 | Africa

Kenyan police on Saturday briefly detained another key government critic over his alleged involvement in the recent mock inauguration of opposition leader Raila Odinga as...

Catholic crackdown in DRC

2 weeks ago - 05 February 2018 | Africa

Police “kidnapped” a Catholic priest on Saturday after mass in Kinshasa, witnesses said, amid spiralling tensions between the church and the Democratic Republic of Congo's...

Plea for Boko Haram displaced

3 weeks ago - 02 February 2018 | Africa

The UN refugee agency appealed on Wednesday for US$157 million to help over a quarter of a million people affected by the insurgency led by...

Zim white farmers included

3 weeks ago - 02 February 2018 | Africa

Zimbabwe's land ministry has issued a directive that would see an end to the discrimination of white farmers as they have now been included on...

Latest News

DebMarine prelims to kick off...

1 day - 24 February 2018 | Sports

The DebMarine Namibia Cup kicks off on 3 March countrywide, with clubs in the first and second divisions battling it out to secure a place...

Outjo donkey abattoir off the...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Agriculture

Plans to build a donkey abattoir in Outjo have folded.Fu-Hai Trading Enterprises, reportedly co-owned by Swakopmund estate agent Shane Quinton Hangula and a Chinese business...

One Africa Television Chief Executive...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Namibia’s first ever free-to-air, independent TV broadcaster in Namibia, One Africa Television was founded in 2003, the brainchild of Namibian photographer and businessman, the late...

3 Key Social Media Trends...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Like it or not, you are recruiting in the world of Google. Just as easily as you can go to the Internet to look things...

Union warns private schools

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES The Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) intends to clamp down on fly-by-night private schools that allegedly exploit...

Mwoombola fights back

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Justice

Former health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola has launched a two-fold application in the Labour Court, in which he wants to court to either halt his...

Elephants cause havoc

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Environment

Several elephant herds have over the past few weeks caused havoc on farms in the Outjo District, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in...

The Basics of Branding

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it...

How to Communicate Effectively in...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Communication is essential for the smooth running of a business, whether it is between colleagues, with a client or with customers.With technology creating a multitude...

Load More