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Aug 9, 2017 | 20:48 GMT

2 mins read

Kenya: Preparing for Post-Election Violence


Post-election violence is in the running for Kenya. Limited violence has been reported amidst the tallying of the heated Aug. 8 election. The contest, which pit President Uhuru Kenyatta against his principal rival, Raila Odinga, was turbulent in the days leading up to the election and after polling closed.

Odinga rejected the election's initial results, which showed him losing to the incumbent president, during the evening hours of Aug. 8. According to the three-time presidential candidate, the country's election website was hacked to display a large, fake lead for Kenyatta. The claims, which have not been verified, tie into the narrative supported by the opposition party during the campaign that the ruling party intended to steal the election. Although limited irregularities have been reported, there are no indications that the election was rigged. At the time of this article's writing, the 97 percent of election results tallied indicate a win for Kenyatta with 54.3 percent of the vote compared with Odinga's 44.8 percent. 

On the ground, unrest was reported in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold on the shores of Lake Victoria. Odinga supporters burned tires and blocked roads and were met by security forces who opened fire and used tear gas against the protesters. Violence has also been reported in the vicinity of the country's capital, Nairobi, and in various shantytowns surrounding the city, most notably Mathare. Initial claims suggest that at least three protesters were killed in the turbulence. Additionally, reports claim that knife-wielding assailants attacked a tallying center in the country's east, in Hola, and that at least two attackers were killed by security forces.

As results continue to pour in, both sides have the power to push the country either toward stability or to further violent escalation. Many of the most controversial drivers of the post-electoral violence in 2007-2008 have not yet materialized. However, the opposition narrative that the government is stealing the election could prove difficult to back away from. This is especially true for Raila Odinga, 72, who is almost certainly in his final campaign and may be use the turmoil as an opportunity for one final, frantic grab at power. From here it looks likely that the situation will continue to involve limited violence but that Kenya's security forces will mostly be able to contain the violence.

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