African Press Association

D-Day for tense Kenya as millions head to polls

From MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – HUMANITARIAN organisations and religious groups are on high alert for conflict likely to arise from fractious polls Kenya is holding today Tuesday .
The run-up to the general elections has been bloody, raising fears among
the international community the East African country is heading for the
genocide that followed contentious polls in 2007.
Ethnic and inter-party violence left over 1 500 people dead and 600 000
others displaced.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have traded accusations of vote rigging.
Unknown assailants kidnapped, tortured and killed Christopher Msando, an information technology official for Kenya’s electoral commission last
Twenty nine out of Kenya’s 47 counties are classified as high or medium
risk for election violence.
This follows ethnic clashes ahead of the polls which will see 19 million
voters participate.
Concern has also been raised over the thousands of illegal firearms in
circulation and the incessant attacks by the al-Shabaab terror group.
Mbaraka Fazal, Christian Aid’s Senior Humanitarian Advisor, said the
organisation was wary of a recurrence of bloodshed.
“We are preparing to send emergency help should conflict flare up,” Fazal said.
Christian Aid is also helping communities to develop their own plans and identify safe havens where they can escape to should violence erupt.
Mercy Corps said it had already resolved 300 election-related disputes
across four counties.
The organisation established an early response system while a response
team made up of over 2 000 people is now trained.
Humanitarian partners and government have developed a four-pillar $31 million (R414,6 million) contingency plan to prepare for violence.
CAJ News