28 February 2013
All eyes on upcoming elections as Kenya works to prevent the recurrence of atrocities
The people of Kenya are just days away from casting their ballots on 4 March in the country’s first election since the 2007 presidential race which resulted in unprecedented ethnic violence, leaving over 1000 people dead and 600,000 more displaced. A country with over 70 distinct ethnic groups – the five largest being Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin, and Kamba - Kenya’s past elections have largely witnessed voting along ethnic lines. This year, eight candidates are running, among them Uhuru Kenyatta and his running-mate, William Ruto, both of whom have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in the commission of crimes against humanity following the 2007 elections. While the Kenyan government has undertaken a range of measures to prevent a repeat of 2007’s deadly crisis, including the adoption of a new constitution to redistribute political power, the training of police and civil society to identify and monitor hate speech, and educating the Kenyan population on the newly established electoral process , civil society organizations have raised alarm to the sizeable risk of violence that remains. As several NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), have reported, Kenya has already experienced election-related inter-communal attacks that left over 400 dead and upwards of 118,000 displaced during 2012 and early 2013. This election, which is expected to be extremely close and require a second round, known as a “run off” (scheduled for 11 April), will prove a great test for the Kenyan government as it works to uphold its responsibility to protect its population from the recurrence of mass atrocities, as well as ensure a free, fair and transparent presidential race.
In this blog, ICRtoP provides a comprehensive overview of the risk to populations, as well as the range of national, regional and international efforts taken thus far to prevent the recurrence of election-related violence. These preventive efforts drive at the very heart of RtoP, which not only calls for states to halt mass atrocities, but to protect populations from genocide, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. The people of Kenya deserve the opportunity to elect a new president without the fear of mass atrocities; the time for preventive action is now.
See full blog post.