Tempers flaring as Kenya readies for polls

kenya violenceMARIA MACHARIA
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – HATE speech and ethnic tensions have resurfaced in Kenya ahead of elections set for 2017, evoking memories of the violence that left thousands dead and displaced following contested polls about a decade ago.

The violence that followed the disputed 2007/08 poll left 1 300 people dead and 600 000 displaced.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) pointed out with the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD) facing off against the ruling Jubilee Coalition, the political temperature was rising.

“Ethnic tensions, in particular, are reaching dangerous levels given the persistent use of hate speech from both sides. Kenya can ill afford another spell of post-election violence, but who will contain the ethno-political ‘dogs of war’ ahead of next year’s polls?” said Peter Aling’o, office director and senior researcher, governance, crime and justice division, at ISS Nairobi.

He recounted electoral violence was not a new phenomenon in Kenya’s political history.

Violence was also commonplace in the 1992 and 1997 polls.

Those alleged to have orchestrated the 2007/08 violence were indicted at the Hague-based International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, among others.

ISS noted Kenya’s 2013 presidential elections left division and hatred among rival party followers. This divide has assumed an ethnic dimension.

The think-tank recommended better legislation and stronger institutions to ensure individual and collective responsibility for attempts to incite hatred and violence.

CAJ News

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