A look at factors complicating Kenya's election

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2013 1:54 PM
A look at factors complicating Kenya's election

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya's presidential election on Monday is the most important and complicated in the country's 50-year history. More than 1,000 people were killed after Kenya's 2007 vote, and political leaders, civil society groups and international governments are pressing Kenyans for no violence this time.

Despite the push for peace, there are many reasons why the aftermath of the vote could turn tumultuous. Here are some of the factors complicating the election:

— One of the two top presidential candidates, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, faces charges at the International Criminal Court, for orchestrating the 2007-08 election violence.

— If Kenyatta wins the presidency, he may have to spend a significant portion of it in court at The Hague.

— A Kenyatta win will also see relations cool between Kenya and the U.S./Europe because of the ICC case.

— If Prime Minister Raila Odinga wins the presidency and Kenyatta refuses to report to the ICC, Odinga may have to order Kenyatta's arrest, risking serious clashes between their two tribes.

— Tensions between the Kikuyus — Kenyatta's tribe — and the Luos — Odinga's tribe — have been high in Mathare, Nairobi's most dangerous slum.

— Kenya has seen more than 200 people killed in politically-connected violence in recent months in the Tana River region and Kenya's north. More violence is expected.

— Kenyan polls show the race to be tight — the top candidates poll in the mid-40-percent range — raising the risk of rigging allegations. Fifty percent is needed to win the presidency; an April run-off between the two is likely.

— The Somali militant group al-Shabab may try to disrupt the vote by attacking polling stations. The al-Qaida-linked group has threatened large-scale attacks in Kenya ever since Kenyan troops moved into Somalia in 2011.

— A secessionist group on Kenya's coast which had been quashed by the government last year is said to be recruiting new members and planning attacks on elections, according to the government-funded, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

— New political divisions known as counties gives Kenya 47 new governors. Those governorships give more tribes a position in power, but they also create some new contentious races over which violence could break out.

— More than 530,000 illegal weapons are in civilians' hands, according to the police.