“The inability by most of these political parties to conduct clean and transparent elections demonstrates the fragility of the Kenyan political system on the eve of the general elections in August”. This is what the Bishops of Kenya say in a recent statement expressing strong concern regarding the tense climate in the country.
The Bishops note that the elections conducted by individual parties to choose candidates to submit to the elections in August are open to manipulations, tensions and violence. “We have political parties that are unable to manage the internal democracy in an organised and peaceful way”, the statement says. A situation that suggests that elections in August could be disturbed by disorder and violence. Fears shared by international investors and foreign tourists who are deserting Kenya, note the Bishops.
Despite the appeal to pray for free and transparent elections launched by the Episcopal Conference during the Lenten period, the worst side of Kenyan politics is emerging: corruption, manipulation of tribalism and ethnicity, recourse to recruiting unemployed youth. All this while Kenya is facing the worst food crisis caused by drought in recent decades. “It is a catastrophe that the same leaders, who are supposed to be engaged in dealing with the drought, are the ones who waste the scarce resources available in order to buy votes. The culture of greed and egocentricism is aggravating an already difficult situation. Kenyans are pushed to the brink of despair”, the Bishops denounce.
According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, candidates of eight political parties have registered to run for presidency and 11,309 for governors, senate and county assemblies in Kenya’s August elections.
President Kenyatta, who is seeking another five-year term, is competing against Odinga, a former prime minister who represents a five-party opposition alliance. Local sources said that increased interest in county-level positions of governor and assemblies is likely to stoke potential for violence in those areas.
In December 2007 vote, ethnic violence left 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 to flee their homes.