Polls: The heat is rising, the mayhem is escalating

Thursday April 13 2017

Reminiscent of 2008, the Red Cross has once again stepped out of its traditional role as a relief provider and into a conflict-resolution role. This time at the local level, as concerns Baringo.

We wish it well—and remain grateful that Kenya abounds with civic and private actors willing to play that role when the political actors blatantly fail. Even in the face of the drought and famine already devastating the north.

Our political actors are casually immune to the lives of the impoverished.

Death in the north is normalised. Whether due to drought or conflict or heavy-handed responses to conflict by the security services.

Only blowback jihadist attacks seem to generate their outrage – and yet more heavy-handed responses by the security services.

Our political actors have also become casual about instigating and provoking violence whenever they’re upset about something.


The political party primaries are this week. Last week alone, there were two incidents about which we should be outraged. For which, charges should have been laid. On the basis of any number of existing criminal offences, let alone electoral-related offences.

First were the shocking events in Migori. When supporters of the incumbent Governor — apparently at his behest unless we suspect a hidden hand — violently disrupted a rally by the opposition to which he himself belongs.

No less than another sitting Governor, two sitting Senators and two sitting parliamentarians were forced to flee, escorted by their private security.

With arms being discharged by both those private security members as well as state security officials.

We do not live in a zoned country. We all have the right to full freedom of movement, full freedom of expression and full freedom of peaceful assembly.

We also live in a country of rule of law. Those rights and that rule of law are not suspended simply because political actors are campaigning.

That incumbent Governor should, frankly, be facing criminal charges right now — or revealing the hidden hand.

Then, lo and behold, the political opposition went right on to lose the moral high ground.

When supporters of a nominated Senator — at her behest — broke into their political party offices and assaulted the head of their political party’s secretariat. The assault only ended when arms were discharged by the security services.

Why? She was aggrieved because she felt her opponent for the parliamentary seat she wants to vie for had been given a direct nomination. Further to yet another violent confrontation between her supporters and his.

The problem is, of course, that neither the security services nor the DPP can be trusted to act without fear or favour. As demonstrated by yet another alarming incident at the Coast prior to this week — in which the revamped former provincial administration (now known as the county command) actively participated in trying to halt another opposition rally.
No wonder the mayhem is escalating.

L. Muthoni Wanyeki is Amnesty International’s regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes