Accessibility links

Kenya Parliament Nominations Spark Violent Protests


Kenya's Electoral Commission is hearing complaints from candidates who failed to secure their parties' nominations for parliamentary elections, scheduled for December 27. As Derek Kilner reports from Nairobi, the nominations have sparked a number of violent protests.

Dissatisfaction with the nomination process, which ended Tuesday, has led to a number of violent protests throughout Kenya in the past few days. Multiple candidates were admitted to hospitals, including assistant minister for planning, John Serut.

The government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has been monitoring the electoral process. The commission's head of advocacy, Njonjo Mue, tells VOA about the complaints his organization has received.

"We have got reports of people who say that the candidates who won at the ballot did not get the nomination certificate," said Mue. "There are some cases of blatant disregard for the people's will. There was not a meaningful mechanism for appeal, and we found that people started expressing their frustration by taking to the streets, demonstrating, and in some cases engaging in violent activity."

While disapproving of the violence, Mue says that many of the protests are motivated by legitimate grievances with the actions of the major parties.

"I think the silver lining to that cloud, we see people expressing their dissatisfaction with the way the nominations were held and specifically with political parties who attempted to cheat people of their rightful representation," said Mue.

"So although it is unfortunate that people are expressing this frustration in some cases quite violently, it is positive that people are refusing to acquiesce to party bigwigs imposing candidates upon them," he added.

Much of the violence has occurred in parts of the country that are dominated by a single party and where the party's nomination is seen as a virtual ticket to parliament.

President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity is expected to win resoundingly in Central Province, while Nyanza Province in Western Kenya is a stronghold of the opposition Orange Democratic movement led by Raila Odinga.

Several high-profile candidates failed to win their parties' nominations, including Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai. Many losing aspirants quickly secured the nominations of smaller parties. Maathai, for example, will run for a seat in parliament with the Mazingira Party, after losing the nomination for Mr. Kibaki's Party of National Unity.

Kenya's presidential elections are also scheduled for December 27. Challenger Raila Odinga has been leading President Mwai Kibaki in most opinion polls since late September, but new surveys released during the weekend show Kibaki narrowing the gap.

XS
SM
MD
LG