Fears of repeat chaos as Jubilee, Cord tussle

A majority of Kenyans are afraid that the country may be plunged into post-election violence after the August 2017 General Election as the political heist between the rival coalitions continues to grow.

In a poll conducted by Twaweza East Africa, 70 per cent of Kenyans have observed that the mounting political contention between Jubilee and Cord coalitions may spill into violence if left unchecked by the political elite and the relevant state agencies.

Nearly half of the electorate are very afraid of the possibility of violence and are already planning to leave the infamous violence hotspots that witnessed chaos after the 2007 elections.

On insecurity, the survey conducted between August 15 and September 6, 2016 also indicates that 60 per cent Kenyans believe that the police themselves are the main reason why citizens don’t report crime cases.

21 per cent of them said they feared being asked for a bribe by the authorities while another 16 per cent argued that police officers do not listen. A further 11 per cent said police are reluctant to act while another group noted that police are also themselves involved in crime.

While four out of ten citizens (38%) feel that in the last three months, there has been an improvement in the security situation in their respective areas, a slightly larger proportion (44%) feel that the security situation in their locality has remained the same, while 18% think it has deteriorated.

Twaweza Advocacy Manager Brezhnez Otieno maintained that despite the improved security in the country, a majority of the citizens especially in urban centres feel that they are prone to poll violence and terrorist attacks.

“There are differences between actual instances of crime and people’s fears of insecurity or political violence. But perceptions matter. A sense of fear is not a healthy start to Kenya’s electoral period. And the worrying lack of confidence in the police by a majority of citizens further heightens the problem,” Mr Otieno said.

He added: “As we approach August 2017, there is a need for public confidence in the electoral system and state mechanisms for law and order. Responsible authorities need to ensure trust in the country’s electoral bodies and instill confidence in law enforcement before and beyond the 2017 elections.”

In a similar survey report released by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) last week, 61 per cent of Kenyans singled out the Regular Police as the most dangerous law enforcement agency while 14 per cent quoted the Administration Police, five per cent indicated the Kenya Defence Forces while another four per cent said that they had been tortured by the county government officers.

The charged atmosphere witnessed earlier in 2016 during the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) protests have raise concerns about the possibility that violence could be sparked off by the elections.

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