Editorials: Kenya, between hope and fear | openDemocracy

Many Kenyans will go to the polls on 4 March 2013 with a sense of trepidation. Three of the country’s four elections since 1992 have been accompanied by significant violence, with 2002 the exception. On each occasion politicians used local grievances over land and inequality to label supporters of rival candidates as ethnic “outsiders”. Militias were then used to force those same voters from their homes. Thousands of people were killed in violence around the 1992, 1997 and 2007 elections and tens of thousands more fled. Some of these supposed “outsiders” never returned to places where their families had lived for decades. No wonder, then, that many Kenyans see elections as something to endure rather than to celebrate. In light of this history, anyone of a nervous disposition might have hoped that this would be a straightforward election with a clear result. That looks unlikely, as on the eve of the vote the final result is too close to call. President Mwai Kibaki is retiring after two terms in office, and prime minister Raila Odinga is the frontrunner. But Odinga’s lead in the opinion polls is narrow, and he will almost certainly be denied an outright majority; in that case a run-off will be held in a few weeks’ time.

Kenya: Landlocked neighbours worried by possible Kenya poll violence | Reuters

Kenya’s landlocked neighbours are stocking up on fuel and food to prevent the kind of disruption they suffered after being cut off from the port of Mombasa by angry rioters following a disputed election five years ago. About 200 million people in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and eastern Congo could be affected if Kenya goes through a fresh bout of fighting when it holds presidential and parliamentary elections on March 4. The port of Mombasa serves its wide hinterland with imports that include oil, clinker which is used to make cement, steel, bitumen for road construction and second-hand cars, while the main exports include tea, coffee, and horticultural products. Some 95 percent of all the cargo coming in through the port is trucked by road. Truck drivers at a weigh bridge in the small town of Athi River on the fringes of the capital Nairobi said there were already fears of violence.

Kenya: Kenya high court delays elections to March 2013 | Reuters

Kenya’s High Court ruled on Friday that the next presidential and parliamentary elections should be held in March 2013 and not this August, unless the ruling coalition collapsed, forcing an earlier poll. The east African country’s next election will come under intense scrutiny because it will be the first under a new constitution, and the first since the 2007 poll that gave rise to fighting in which more than 1,220 people were killed. The government had proposed amending the constitution to delay the vote to December because of logistical problems, prompting petitioners to ask the High Court for a ruling.

Kenya: Kibaki and Odinga to set up new Electoral Commission – no electronic voting in Kenya in 2012 | Individual.com

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have just two days to set in motion the mechanism that will give the country a new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

… Mr Hassan said the commission is working on rules and regulations that will require political parties to reserve some seats for women candidates only during nominations. This will help attain the gender ratios set by the new Constitution.

He also said the commission will use a manual voting system in 2012 elections. This ends speculations that Kenya could have electronic voting in next year’s elections.