News / Africa

Kenya Braces as Political, Tribal Tensions Rise

FILE - General Service Unit (GSU) members stand guard after assailants killed Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohammed Idris in Mombasa, Kenya, on June 10, 2014.
FILE - General Service Unit (GSU) members stand guard after assailants killed Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohammed Idris in Mombasa, Kenya, on June 10, 2014.

With a political showdown looming Monday in Kenya’s capital, unease has settled there and through much of the country. Some government officials say they’ve beefed up security, while religious leaders are calling for calm.

Supporters of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who lost to Uhuru Kenyatta in a 2013 presidential bid, have planned a major rally in the capital city of Nairobi on July 7. It coincides with Odinga’s deadline for Kenyatta’s government to schedule a national forum on the country’s deteriorating economy, security and political climate.

Kenya has experienced a rash of violence linked to Islamist militants, sectarian backlashes and a crackdown on secessionists. Just last month, gunmen from the Somali rebel group al-Shabab stormed the coastal town of Mpeketoni, killing more than 60 people and torching properties worth millions.

A bloody history

The specter of violence goes back to the 2007 presidential election. Fighting that erupted among tribal groups left more than 1,100 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.   

Some groups, fearing new attacks, are leaving the conflict-prone Rift Valley, Kenyan news media report. The region experienced most of the political violence around the 2007 elections.

On Friday, Reuters reported that religious leaders in Kenya were trying to head off further bloody confrontations. Roman Catholic and Presbyterian leaders discouraged their members from attending political rallies. Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala told the news agency that, “as churches, we have all united in asking for peace and for calm in the country."

The Anglican cathedral borders the Nairobi park where Monday’s rally is scheduled. In recent weeks, Odinga has crisscrossed the country and held rallies to push the government and change how it’s managed.

As Reuters reported, the religious leaders’ intervention could have a significant impact, because roughly half of Kenya’s 40 million people belong to churches. 

In Mombasa, security officers are on high alert.

Police Commissioner Nelson Marwa said his forces will seriously deal with those who want to start chaos. "You cannot just sit back and watch criminals take over a system” and “kill innocent citizens,” Marwa said. “You act.”

After the 2007 election, police were accused of doing too little to protect civilians and stop the violence.

Now, Marwa said his officers are providing more security to vulnerable areas of Mombasa, especially poor areas with higher concentrations of unemployed young people.

"We feel certain areas in the country are already being given special emphasis,” he said. "Some of them are slum areas.  

“It is easy to manipulate an unemployed person,” Marwa said. “You give him some small money, he takes to the street. That's why we are saying these are specific areas we should safeguard ensure that they are tight security there."

After the Mpeketoni attack, Kenyatta, the president, said the violence was ethnically motivated, despite al-Shabab having claimed responsibility.

The U.S. State Department relocated some of its embassy staff and issued travel warnings to Americans about the potential for terrorist attacks.

Lamu Governor Issa Timamy was arrested in connection with the Mpeketoni attack, charged with murder, terrorism and forceful eviction. A high court in Mombasa released him June 30 on a $57,000 cash bail.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: AMOS WISLEY from: NAIROBI
July 07, 2014 12:29 PM
Kenya is just a group of tribes each fighting for its survival with the major tribes head-on. No institution in Kenya is free from tribalism and corruption and that is the major problem of Kenyans. Elections are won not by votes but by how crooked you are.

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
July 06, 2014 2:43 AM
If Kenya's corrupted politicians continue to heighten and fuel the tribal-religion tension....soon they will become full member of African Confederation of Failed States.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs