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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid