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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.


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