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New Report Faults ODM for Most Violence During Last December's Kenya Election

A new report says the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) perpetrated the most violence during Kenya’s December 27 election. The report, entitled “Who Is Guilty”, was compiled and released this week. It said part of the reasons the ODM committed most of the electoral offenses was because the ODM fielded the largest number of parliamentary and civic candidates.

Kepta Ombati is the chief executive of Youth Agenda, the organization that compiled the report. He told VOA that one of the reasons for the study was to establish the extent of the misuse and abuse of young people during the violence.

“First of all, we broke violence into organized or planned violence and spontaneous violence. We found that only 21 percent of all the reported election violence was spontaneous, 72 percent was actually organized and planned. In terms of the form, we looked at eight different forms, which were physical, fatal attacks, verbal assault, destruction of property, obstruction, incitement to violence, hate speech and bribery. And we found that the most prevalent form of violence was physical violence which stood at 27 percent,” he said.

Ombati said the report is a product of data collected from the field by Youth Agenda’s field monitors across Kenya, and the information was crosschecked with other sources, including media reports about the violence.

The report, entitled “Who Is Guilty”, was compiled and released this week. Ombati explained why the ODM committed most of the electoral offenses.

“We found that out of the reported cases ODM accounted for about 48 percent of all the electoral offenses while PNU (Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity) accounted for 24 percent. Now part of the reason what might explain why the ODM figures are so high is because it attracted the largest number of parliamentary and civic candidates. And number two is that it was also the most competitive party in terms of nominations,” Ombati said.

The report said while the youths carried out the violence, they did so at the tail end of the process. It said other forces were involved in planning and financing the violence and used the youths to execute it.

“Out of the incidences that were monitored and reported, we found that in terms of planning, young people were responsible for only seven percent, while all the people, all the politicians their sponsors were responsible for 18 percent of the cases. In terms of financing, this changes drastically. Young people were responsible for 7.3 percent while the older people accounted for 61 percent, “ he said.

Ombati said even though Kenyans are ready to move forward with the formation of their unity government, it is essential to understand the root causes of December election violence so as to avoid future election violence.

“What we are telling society is that we need to understand the root causes of violence which has characterized every election that we have had because there is no guaranteed that the next election would be violence-free. During the negotiations, one of the key items, what we called Item Four, was about reform, reconstruction, and reconciliation. It is not possible to address those issues without understanding the root cause of the violence,” Ombati said.