KENYA, January 9, 2012 - The flow of events in Kenya, characterized by skirmishes, bitter exchanges, and party splits are heightening fears over possible turmoil after the next election, similar to the 2007 clashes which saw bloodshed in the country.
On Wednesday January 9th, the world woke up to the news of bloody tribal clashes in Kenya, with Pokomo farmers resuming attacks on the Orma herders in Tana Delta.
Ethnic violance has killed hundreds in Kenya over the last year.
Although the direct trigger for the conflict is arguments over land and limited resources in the region, politicians appear to be inciting the violence to further their own political agendas.
Last September, a cabinet minister was fired after he was accused of inciting violence in the Tana delta.
Political alliances in the country are already fraying, adding to the prospect of more violence in the country. The situation is threatening to devolve further as the March elections approach.
Last week, the United Democratic Forum (UDF) party and Pambazuka Alliance on announced that they had reached a deal to form a new alliance for the elections. Mr. Eugene Wamalwa, who previously had entered into an agreement to run with presidential aspirant Cyrus Jirongo, is now a part of the new alliance.
The continued defections show the political ambitions of individuals seeking to form their own party in hopes of winning office. However, the continually shifting political situation is dangerous in a nation where the electorate tends to vote along ethnic lines. Continued ethnic divisions creates a situation ripe for violence in the event of any disputed election result.
Because of the number of people vying for high office, there is almost certain to be a party that claims fraud and leads followers into the streets to protest, potentially leading to violence.in an effort to avert violence, the legislature is not only calling for calm, but also banned alcohol in the days leading up to the election. The hope is that sober minds will be more likely to avoid fometing violence.
The election will pit two major tribes, the Kikuyu and Luo, against each other. These are the same groups who participated in the 2007 faceoff, and whose disputes lead to near genocide in the aftermath.
Kenyans are now praying that the 2013 elections will not bring the same devestation as previous votes.
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