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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More