With Kenya’s general election five weeks away, Human Rights Watch says some communities in the Rift Valley region live in fear of attacks if they vote against the ruling Jubilee party, and some people have left after young men warned them to stay away from polling centers. The rights organization is calling on authorities to investigate and prosecute those behind the threats and intimidation. “We also had some direct threat of people telling their colleagues, ‘Let us wait for August 8. We shall see where you will go. We shall be coming for you.’ Those kinds of utterances,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Otisieno Namwaya. “So people are afraid, people are leaving. Some of the families told us they were waiting for the schools to close and they will leave the area.”
The rights agency’s two-week investigation focuses on Naivasha in Nakuru Country, 90 kilometers from the capital, Nairobi. It was one of the areas hardest hit by violence after the 2007 election that was driven, in part, by ethnic divisions.
Kenya’s electoral risk mapping shows 17 counties out of 47 have been identified as conflict-prone areas. Nakuru County is expected to experience election-related violence.
In June, the Interior Ministry opened a command center to respond to terrorism and election violence. Hundreds of officers from security agencies are training around the country to prevent violence tied to the election, with the goal of having a “credible, peaceful election” and stability in the weeks surrounding election day. But Namwaya says police officers lack the ability to respond if violence erupts in August.
Full Article: HRW Reports Threats to Voters a Month Before Kenyan Election.