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Economy

Violence, election fraud will turn Kenya to international pariah: UK pundits

A political rally: Hundreds of media representatives and 5,000 international observers are expected to monitor and cover next week's poll. FILE PHOTO | JEFFF ANGOTE
A political rally: Hundreds of media representatives and 5,000 international observers are expected to monitor and cover next week's poll. FILE PHOTO | JEFFF ANGOTE  

Next week’s General Elections are likely to be a watershed for the country’s relations with the international community, according to analysts in the UK press.

Get it right with and the election passes off peacefully and Kenya will once again be welcomed with open arms into the international community, with Britain in particular being anxious to resume good relations with Nairobi as it prepares to enter a post-Brexit world.

But get it wrong, with violence and election fraud, and Kenya could once again become an international pariah shunned on the world stage with an inevitable economic cost to boot.

Some commentators in the UK are predicting violence like that witnessed ten years ago, with The Independent newspaper warning that “the government's failure to address old wounds risks passing them along for generations with the potential for cycles of violence.”

'Unresolved injustices'

The paper warns that there remains “deep-seated hatred over unresolved injustices.” It also points out that though some changes have been made, the country has not made much-needed reforms to its security forces tasked with upholding peace across the country.

“Experts say that if Kenya's injustices are not addressed, it is a matter of when, not if, violence will occur again…Ensuring justice for past violations and addressing their root causes is imperative in establishing a society that abides by the rule of law.”

The Independent also quotes Prof Ronald Slye of Seattle University, a former member of Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as saying: "In the short run, it may make sense to ignore such tensions in order to achieve short-term political gains...In the long run it risks, at best, a situation of stasis in terms of development and, at worst, a repeat of some of the worst violence the country has seen.”

Hundreds of media representatives and 5,000 international observers are expected to be monitoring and covering next week's poll.



Former commissioner of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Prof Ronald Slye, listens as a journalists gives their testimonies on February 23, 2012. FILE PHOTO | JAYNE NGARI | NMG
Former commissioner of the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Prof Ronald Slye, listens as a journalists gives their testimonies on February 23, 2012. FILE PHOTO | JAYNE NGARI | NMG

Msando murder

The Guardian quotes Rashid Abdi, a regional analyst at the International Crisis Group, as saying that the murder of IEBC election official Chris Msando was an extremely concerning development.

He said the killing of “someone who was involved in a critical component of the elections, the electronic infrastructure” would “definitely raise suspicions and undermine public confidence in the outcome” of the poll.

Human Rights Watch also said Mr Msando’s death should be urgently investigated.

The United States and the United Kingdom said they were "gravely concerned" by the murder, calling for "free, fair, credible and peaceful elections" in Kenya.

The two countries also offered assistance in the investigation. Mr Msando's family urged the Kenyan government to accept the offer in order to "conclude the matter with urgency".

However, The Guardian also says that most analysts opine that “the prospect of disorder on the scale of 2007 is remote, though some local clashes are to be expected during the campaign and after the results are declared.”

Tight race

The Financial Times (FT) says that polls “suggest the presidential race is extremely tight and both men are using multiple tactics to gain whatever advantage they can as voting day nears.”

It says that one of the critical issues remains Judicial independence which it says “is a sensitive subject in Kenya because Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2013 presidential election only after a supreme court appeal by Mr Odinga, who was also his main challenger then, failed.”

Many losers are expected to appeal against their defeats to the courts.

However one western diplomat told the FT: “The judiciary is the best prepared of the different institutions participating in the election.”

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