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Inside Story

What is fuelling Kenya's ethnic violence?

As Kenya prepares to hold elections in March, we ask if politicians are stirring up tribal rivalries for political gain.
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2013 11:31

As more people are killed in ethnic violence in southeast Kenya, fears are being raised of further conflict in the run up to the March presidential election.

"We know that Tana River over the last 20 years has always seen pre-election violence but not this madness. This scale is just sheer, you know, out of all proportions."

- Abbas Guled, from Red Cross Kenya

About 180 people have been killed and thousands displaced since August in tribal violence that Kenyan police say is linked to the upcoming voting.

Politicians stand accused of fuelling the anger to push their own agendas and analysts warn the polls could destabilise East Africa's biggest economy. 

Kenyans have not forgotten about the last time elections brought blood to the streets.

Back in 2007, supporters of President Mwai Kibaki fought with his opponents over his return to power.

"There is something about marginalisation and violence in this country .... The biggest problem in this country is the question of equitable distribution of resources. And partly we have tried to solve this problem in our new constitution."

- Kipchumba Murkomen of the United Republican Party

About 1,500 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced in the worst crisis to hit Kenya since independence in 1963.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has now indicted four men, including Uhuru Kenyatta, the deputy prime minister, and his running mate William Ruto, for crimes linked to the post-election violence.

Just what is really fuelling these clashes? Should politicians do more to stem the violence? And what will happen in the aftermath of the next election?

Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Gosh, discusses with guests: Salim Lone, an adviser to Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga and an author on Kenyan affairs; Kipchumba Murkomen of the United Republican Party; and Micheal Amoah, an Africa affairs analyst.

"Kenyans are not by nature hostile to other communities .... We should dispense with this notion that we are deeply ethnic people. These ethnic ties are being politicised in order to make political gain .... The impact on the economy will be huge and ours is an economy which is highly open, it's internationalised, we trade and deal with the world, so it would have a major impact on the livelihoods of all Kenyans."

Salim Lone, an adviser to the Kenyan prime minister

FACTS ABOUT ELECTION VIOLENCE: 

  • Up to 150 Kenyans have been killed in ethnic violence since August
  • Ten people died in tribal violence last week
  • Recent attacks were between Pomoko and Orma ethnic groups
  • The Pomoko and Orma have been fighting for more than 30 years
  • Last week's attack left 19 houses burned to the ground
  • Police have been criticised for not doing enough to quell violence  
  • Many Kenyans blame the government for inciting violence
  • Presidential elections in Kenya have been scheduled for March
  • About 1,500 people were killed during the 2007 presidential election
  • Rioting during the 2007 vote forced 600,000 people to flee their homes

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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