Kenya rights group warns of vote violence

2011-03-01 08:51

Nairobi, Kenya – Three years ago, Kenya’s top leaders pulled the country back from devastating post-election violence.

Today the country is peaceful, but human rights advocates said they worry the country could again explode during next year’s vote.

More than 1 000 people died and 600 000 were displaced in the ensuing tribal violence after the disputed 2007 presidential election.

The still-smouldering issues in Kenya include demobilising militias that fought during the post-election violence, addressing impunity of connected officials, and addressing poverty and youth unemployment, the independent Kenya Human Rights Commission said yesterday.

“Our concern is that should the government not implement these reforms the 2007-08 violence will seem like a Christmas party compared to the violence in 2012,” said George Morara of the commission.

The commission gave its assessment on the third anniversary of a power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga that ended the violence. That agreement made Odinga prime minister.

The group gave Kenya’s coalition government 43 points out of 100 in its scorecard of the government’s performance in implementing the reforms agreed upon three years ago.

Kenya’s prime minister has congratulated the country for achieving one of the key reforms - a new constitution that was approved in an August referendum. The new document reduced the powers of the presidency, which had been used by Kenya’s first two leaders to favour their tribes in land distribution, government jobs and tenders.

Still, critics say the president already has violated provisions of the new constitution 11 times since its adoption last year.

And Peter Karanja, the head of the National Council of Churches in Kenya, said he is suspicious that efforts have not been made to demobilize youth groups and militias recruited to carry out the violence between December 2007 and February 2008.

“The failure to do this three years after the violence raises suspicions that there are plans to engage those groups in similar violence in the future,” Karanja said.

Tens of thousands of internally displaced people still live in camps and cannot go back to their home areas - a testament to the lingering hostility between communities, said David Malombe, an official at the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

And some politicians continue to fan the flames.

In December, the Hague-based International Criminal Court prosecutor named key suspects he wants the court to investigate for masterminding the post-election violence.

Soon after, allies of the six suspects said the ICC’s investigations were targeting certain tribes and ignoring others.

Three politicians now face charges of hate speech after being shown on TV asking people from other tribes to move out of the constituencies they represent if they voted for a new constitution.

One episode of high-stakes brinkmanship between the president and prime minister last month showed a glimmer of hope for the country though.

Kibaki nominated four candidates to top government jobs, but Odinga said he had not been consulted. Kibaki eventually withdrew the nominations after local and international groups said he had made the nominations unconstitutionally.

Tired of waiting for their leaders to unite the country, some Kenyans are now making a push to reach out to each other to avert future fighting.

A movement that spread through Facebook and Twitter asked Kenyans to sing the national anthem as a sign of unity on Monday, the anniversary of the peace agreement brokered by former UN chief Kofi Annan.

Alison Ngibuini, one of the organisers, said the initiative was a call for people to soul search on what unity means and what is at stake for Kenya.

“We intend to peacefully and creatively rally Kenyans by pushing for a positive national identity in an attempt to counter and defeat negative ethnicity,” Ngibuini said.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.