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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
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 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 Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
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 Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
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.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid