World View: Kenya Fears Violence as Opposition Refuses to Accept Presidential Election Results

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Kenya’s election commission announces that Uhuru Kenyatta is reelected president
  • Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga promises to ‘remove’ the Uhuru Kenyatta government

Kenya’s election commission announces that Uhuru Kenyatta is reelected president

President Uhuru Kenyatta giving election victory speech on Saturday
President Uhuru Kenyatta giving election victory speech on Saturday

Tensions continue to boil in Kenya as the opposition leader, an ethnic Luo, continues to claim that Tuesday’s presidential election was rigged by the government in favor of the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu.

There is widespread fear of a repeat of the inter-tribal violence that followed the 2007 election, killing more than 1,200 people, and punctuated by numerous atrocities, when Odinga lost the presidential election to another Kikuyu, Mwai Kibaki.

For decades, Kenya’s elections have been suspected of riggings, but challenges have always been summarily rejected by Kenya’s Supreme Court. This time, it had been hoped that careful preparation by the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) would produce an election result that was so carefully computed that no one would challenge it. The key was a sophisticated IT system managed by the IEBC. But then on July 31, the man in charge of the IT systems, Chris Msando, was found brutally murdered, with broken fingers and other evidence of torture, including strangulation.

After the election on Tuesday, the IEBC announced preliminary results showing a 54 percent victory for Kenyatta, with 44 percent to Odinga. Odinga claimed that his people had collected election results from each of the districts in the country, and that his figures show that he had won, not Kenyatta. He said that the IEBC’s IT systems had been hacked, which the IEBC denied.

By Friday, the IEBC had received all the paper ballots from all the districts and had counted all of them individually. The result was the same – 54 percent for Kenyatta to 44 percent for Odinga.

Diplomats from numerous countries are saying that Kenyatta won the election fairly and that Odinga should now concede defeat, which he is refusing to do. 24 people have been killed in post-election violence, and further violence is feared. Reuters and The Nation (Kenya) and CNN

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Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga promises to ‘remove’ the Uhuru Kenyatta government

Opposition leader Raila Odinga with thousands of supporters in Nairobi on Sunday
Opposition leader Raila Odinga with thousands of supporters in Nairobi on Sunday

Despite enormous international pressure to concede defeat, the major opposition candidate Raila Odinga is refusing to do so, and continues to claim that the election was rigged, although he has provided no evidence so far.

On Sunday, Odinga addressed a crowd of 4,000 cheering supporters in Kibera, an enormous slum in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. With the crowd chanting “Uhuru must go,” he blamed Jubilee, Kenyatta’s political party, for the post-election violence that killed at least 24 people:

I am telling Jubilee that they have spilled innocent people’s blood, they will pay for it. Because Jubilee has deployed troops with guns to kill innocent people, tomorrow (Monday) you should not leave your house, there is no work tomorrow . Then on Tuesday (August 15) I will give out the direction as to what we need to do.

After the 2007 elections, Odinga’s claims of rigging were thought to be the trigger for the massive inter-tribal violence and atrocities that followed. In the 2013 election, Odinga challenged the election results in the courts, but the court rejected his claims.

This time, Odinga has announced that he will overturn the election results, not through the courts but through the people. It is not known what known what action Odinga will announce on Tuesday, but it’s feared that it could trigger more violence.

Whether violence is likely is discounted by some analysts, who point out that people remember the 2007 violence, and have no desire to repeat it.

However, in one way, violence has been increasing since 2007. Raila Odinga is a member of the marginalized Luo tribe, which is an offshoot of the Kalenjins, a nomadic herder people. Uhuru Kenyatta is from the market-dominant Kikuyu tribe, which represents farmers and large landowners. In the classic battles between herders and farmers, there have repeated instances of violence between Kalenjins and Kikuyus this year. In fact, there have been some Kalenjin politicians inciting violence against large landowners. The result could be new rounds of violence, with Odinga accused of inciting the violence. The Star (Kenya) and Reuters and Guardian (London)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Kenya, Kisumu, Kibera, Luo, Kikuyu, Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Mau-Mau Rebellion, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, IEBC, Mwai Kibaki, Jubilee
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