Following the repeat presidential elections in Kenya conducted on 26th October 2017, Shalom, from the perspective of peace and reconciliation, has been following what is happening in some of the areas that had been labelled as hotspots. Shalom opted to follow up the situations in Nairobi particularly the slums of Kibera, Kariobangi, Mathare, parts of Western Kenya especially in Kisumu and Homabay.
The general feedback that Shalom has so far received from the ground especially in Kibera, Mathare and Kariobangi is that the election took place, albeit partially in terms of participation. The reports we have received from the 3 areas in Nairobi, had few voters who were streaming into the polling stations unlike the 8th August Elections that reported very long queues as early as 5.00am. Even though there was relative calm in Mathare and Kariobangi for the whole day on 26th, Kibera experienced running battles between the people and the police especially in Olympic area where voting did not take place in one of the polling stations.
The aftermath of the elections seem to indicate that there is a general fatigue among voters in Kenya hence the yearning a closure so that normalcy can be restored. There is a wide-ranging feeling among residents of these areas that they are tired of the endless political processes that the country has been experiencing. However they are also indicating that the prevailing calm is not because the communities from the political divide have accepted each other but because of the prevailing anxiety in the country, they have opted to let life move on.
It is notable that protests were experienced in different parts of the country particularly in the strongholds of the opposition. However, the protests were not targeting particular ethnic groups but it was a general expression of discontent with the structures managing the electoral process and the prevailing political situation and climate. The indication we are receiving is that there is ongoing frustration among people especially those allied to the opposition and it is still unclear what these frustrations might lead to. There is no guarantee that the sporadic incidences of manifest violence will not continue in the near future. Normality has not yet fully returned in the areas that evidenced violent protest; tension is still very prevalent. Life and business as usual is still affected in parts of Kibera, Mathare and Kariobangi. However, in Kisumu, Siaya, Migori and Homabay, the situation remains tense especially in the major towns. The level of resentment is high and there is anticipation of even more agitation among people following IEBC’s announcement that election will be held in these areas tomorrow on 28th October 2017.
Generally, there is uncertainty and unpredictability about the future social and political integration throughout the country, particularly in respect to peace and security. Shalom is committed to continue working with peace groups in these areas to support integration, tolerance and cohesion processes so as to promote positive peace exemplified in reconciliation.
Shalom (SCCRR) Peace and Conflict Monitoring Network
27.10.2017 (11.00am EAT)