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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid