NAIROBI: The risk of political violence in Kenya is perilously high ahead of next month’s election, the first since bloody post-poll violence five years ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned today.
Local communities are arming themselves fearing possible violence ahead of the presidential, parliamentary and local elections on March 4, HRW said, citing reports from local non-governmental organisations.
The New York-based rights group said in a report that the underlying causes of past election-related violence remain in place, and in some parts of the country the tensions have escalated, and the risk of violence and human rights violations remains perilously high.
The 2007-8 violence shattered Kenya’s image as a beacon of stability in east Africa, when what began as political riots quickly turned into ethnic violence that killed some 1,200 people and displaced 600,000 others.
At least 477 people were killed and over 118,000 fled their homes due to ethnic violence last year, HRW added, noting that many of these incidents have been linked to pre-election manoeuvring as local politicians mobilise support.