News / Africa

Security a Concern Ahead of Kenya Presidential Election

Relatives cry for their loved one as he is brought into hospital after an explosion, al-Shabab sympathizers are suspected in many of the blast attacks, Dec. 7, 2012.
Relatives cry for their loved one as he is brought into hospital after an explosion, al-Shabab sympathizers are suspected in many of the blast attacks, Dec. 7, 2012.
Gabe Joselow
— Kenyan presidential hopeful Musalia Mudavadi says the conflict in Somalia has created new security challenges for Kenya as the country prepares for elections in March.  In an interview with VOA Wednesday, the deputy prime minister said the country's security agencies will have to be extra vigilant to ensure a peaceful vote.

As Kenya's presidential poll approaches, the candidates are calling for peace, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the violence that followed the last presidential election in 2007.

Interethnic fighting that broke out after the disputed vote left more than 1,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes.

Musalia Mudavadi was the running mate to current Prime Minister Raila Odinga during his campaign for president in 2007 and saw first-hand how the political dispute led to violence.

He says a new threat has emerged since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 in pursuit of al-Shabab militants blamed for cross-border attacks.  Since the intervention, Kenya has endured a series of grenade attacks in Nairobi that police blame on al-Shabab or its sympathizers. 

“So we must be careful that as much as possible, the security threat from that quarter does not undermine our democratic process because it has a second danger of introducing serious weaponry into this process, which was not necessarily the issue in 2007 and 2008,” Mudavadi said.

Mudavadi says Kenya had no choice but to intervene in Somalia, even if it has brought the threat of attack closer to home.

Other recent incidents of violence within Kenya have raised concerns about whether the country can hold a peaceful vote.  On Wednesday, the Kenyan Red Cross said at least eight people were killed in renewed clashes in the Tana River area between two rival communities - an ongoing conflict that politicians and Red Cross officials have said is politically motivated.

Mudavadi said that while he does not expect a return to the kind of widespread violence seen after the last election, he is concerned that Kenyan police may not be prepared in the case that it does occur. “So as much as I don't see us getting to the situation that we were in, we should not take anything for granted. The incidents happening in Tana River at this particular time, even when the police presence has been increased in that area, tells you that during an election time, when police forces are overstretched, it could be very very dangerous for the country,” he explained.

Mudavadi is trailing in recent polls behind other presidential hopefuls, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

He recently left a coalition with Kenyatta and member of parliament William Ruto, both of whom have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges that they were responsible for crimes committed during the 2008 post-election violence.

He says that while it is not his role to judge the ICC suspects, he acknowledged that their candidacy in the upcoming elections could have an impact on foreign relations.

“Kenya is not an island, we are a nation amongst others and we must always make sure that we retain our dignity as a nation, our sovereignty as a nation," Mudavadi noted. "Yet at the same time, we must remember that we are part of a broader international community.”

After leaving the alliance with Kenyatta and Ruto, Mudavadi is now part of the new Amani coalition, with Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa.

Both politicians come from western Kenya, where they maintain their base of support.  But the hard part for the campaign will be winning votes in the Rift Valley and Central Province regions, which are the traditional strongholds of Ruto and Kenyatta and the epicenter of the violence that tore the country apart last time around.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Margaret S. Maringa from: Baltimore (US
January 09, 2013 11:55 PM
Politicians everywhere suffer from this lingering habit of "selective amnesia" which translates into conveniently ignoring pressing issues unless (until) they become political opportunity.

This negative habit becomes increasingly manifest and doubly disgusting around election campaigns.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid