Voter intimidation, expulsion threats and a rise in purchases of machetes point to violence at Kenya’s March 4 national election, a coalition of 30 Kenyan civic groups said on Wednesday. The government has promised harsh penalties for those caught inciting ethnic violence as it is anxious to avoid post-election bloodshed like that after the last vote in 2007 that led to indictments by the International Criminal Court. More than 1,200 people were killed and more than 350,000 displaced from their homes when disputes over the results of the presidential vote five years ago broke out, triggering violence.
The civic groups, some of which assist victims of the 2007-08 post-election violence, said one of the biggest worries was the lack of prosecution of those responsible.
Machete-wielding youths burnt houses, raped women and killed members of rival communities in the last spate of bloodshed.
“An impunity gap exists and the chances that the same perpetrators will carry out the very same illegal acts as were witnessed in the last elections are very high,” said a statement by 30 regional and national organizations that seek to promote social cohesion, human rights and democracy across Kenya.