Sunday, August 7, 2022

Groups call for peace ahead of August polls in Kenya

While Kenya is heading for a highly contested presidential election, many are concerned about a repeat of deadly violence seen in previous votes. The Kenyan group Mothers of Victims and Survivors is calling on all sides to maintain peace during this year’s polls.

Benna Buluma, also known as Mama Victor, is holding photos of her two deceased sons at her temporary home in the Mathare section of Nairobi.

Election time brings back painful memories of the 48-year-old widow.

On August 9, 2017, her sons; Benard and Victor Okoth, both young men, were shot dead after a police crackdown on election rallies in the area, just a day after the presidential polls. Five years later, the killers were still not held accountable.

If it was my sons who killed someone on the road, they would have been arrested, Buluma says as he fights back tears. But the police who killed my sons have not yet been arrested, she says, and that is what hurts me the most. I wonder why, she adds. They are all human, and the law must serve everyone equally.

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Mathare, one of the largest slums in Africa, with some of the most densely populated poor neighborhoods in Nairobi, has remained a constant hotbed of electoral violence.

MarryAnn Kasina is the co-founder of Social Justice Center, an organization that promotes social justice in Nairobi.

“Every time we have elections, they know what our issues are, but they have not realized,” Kasina said. “So, to bring your manifesto, to say that you bring water, you will do it … it only brings horizontal violence because you are already living in poverty. It is violence that already lives in it, you know.”

Mama Victor founded the group Mothers of Victims and Survivors Network to help families seek justice.

The group calls on electoral authorities and participants in the presidential election in August to refrain from violence.

We want a peaceful election, she says. And that’s not all – we, as mothers of victims, want justice for our children, and compensation, she adds.

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Kenyan police have been accused of using excessive force in dealing with previous election-related protests.

With just over a month to go before the general election, the National Police Service says it is prepared to provide a safe environment for the polls to proceed peacefully.

Bruno Shioso, police spokesman, said in a statement to VOA that steps had been taken to improve security, including new election safety training and additional equipment for officers.

Past elections in Kenya have been plagued by deadly violence. In the most notorious incident, more than 1,100 people were killed in riots and attacks after the controversial vote in 2007.

But as the clock ticks to this year’s vote, observers are cautiously optimistic that the polls will be peaceful.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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