This leaflet has been circulated extensively in Lugari District where I live. In essence it says that anyone who goes to vote on October 26 is “putting his/her life in danger.”
Note: I again ask you to send financial support to Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) so that funds are available for TCSC to respond to tomorrow’s election and its aftermath with sufficient funds to react and intercede in areas of communal violence. The methods of supporting TCSC are at the bottom of this posting.
On Sunday afternoon I arrived in Nairobi from my trip to the US just in time to observe tomorrow’s re-election. The mood in Kenya is subdued as people are just waiting to see what will happen on election day and its aftermath. As it stand now – and things can change drastically at any moment – the election is still scheduled to be held, but the NASA opposition is telling its supporters not to vote. In the four predominately Luo counties around Kisumu, Raila Odinga’s home area, the training of election officials have been disrupted and NASA has told its supporters not to apply for polling station positions so that there well may be no voting stations open. This includes at least 10% of the electorate.
Lumakanda town itself is very quiet with few people in town and many of its stores that are normally open closed. Lugari District which included Lumakanda is an opposition NASA stronghold. People have told me that they are not going to vote. When I asked if opposition supporters are going to block people who want to vote from going to the polls, I was told, “No.” But then I was not speaking to the youth who would be the ones to intimidate voters.
Although Lugari District is an opposition stronghold, there are many inhabitants from the tribes who support Jubilee. As a result, the threatening leaflet pictured at the top of this report has been widely circulated – anyone who vote will be endangering his/her life. This intimidation leafing has been reported to the authorities and a sizeable contingent of police has flooded the district as a potential hotspot. When I asked a Lugari resident of one of the tribes that supports Jubilee if he was going to vote, he stated that he will stay home all day. In other words, the leaflet and its message are effective.
Yesterday Transforming Communities for Social Change with the Mt. Elgon Peace Center arranged a peace caravan from Mt. Elgon where the Sabaot, a Kalenjin tribe, is strongly supportive of Jubilee, down the mountain to the Bukusu area which is strongly supportive of NASA. The caravan focused on areas where they two tribes meet and intermingle. The message of the peace caravan was that everyone has the right to vote and everyone has the right not to vote. People should be allowed whatever option they wish.
Anti-IEBC demonstrators yesterday marching in Kisumu to the electoral commission offices to protest the election. No violence occurred. Later demonstrations turned more violent as youth burnt tires and the police responded with tear gas. Photo by Victor Raballa, Nations Media Group.
Today there was a case to be tried at the Supreme Court to cancel tomorrow’s election. The driver for one of the judges was shot and severely wounded. There are seven judges and five are needed for a quorum but only two were able to attend, thereby postponing the case. Raila Odinga plans on holding a major rally in downtown Nairobi later today where he is supposed to make a “big announcement.” He did back off his early call for demonstrations on election day and is now advising his supporters to just stay home. It is not clear, though, how much control he has over his youthful supporters. In Jubilee strongholds there are reports of intimidation of those who do not go to vote.
Wait and see. My only prediction is that “the sun will rise and the sun will set…there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes – Chapter 1)
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.
Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC)
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Reports from Kenya: www.davidzarembka.com/