Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta delivers a speech after he handed the national flag to the Olympics Kenyan team on July 22, 2016 at the State House in Nairobi. / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta warned Thursday against violence as election season gets into full swing, with chaotic party primaries already leading to bloody scuffles.
East Africa’s largest economy holds a general election on August 8, a decade after disputed polls fuelled violence that left more than 1,100 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.
“As a party, we will not tolerate violence. As president, I will also not tolerate violence and anybody who engages in acts of violence will be dealt with in accordance with the law, irrespective of who they are,” Kenyatta told a press conference in Nairobi.
Kenyatta is seeking a second term in office with his Jubilee Party. Opposition heavyweights including his longtime rival Raila Odinga have united in a coalition called NASA, but have yet to pick a flagbearer with a little over three months to the vote.
However, the country is already gripped by election fever and primaries to choose candidates for local government and parliament have seen violence and dramatic last-minute floor-crossings.
Albino lawmaker Isaac Mwaura claimed on Facebook he had been shot in the ear and his car sprayed with bullets in an “assassination attempt” while out campaigning for Jubilee, just days after defecting from Odinga’s ODM party, the main opposition group.
Dozens have been injured in clashes over nominations, including at ODM headquarters in Nairobi earlier this month when youths supporting one nominee for senator drew guns claiming her rival had already secured the party ticket.
On Wednesday, local media reported fistfights between rival supporters of ruling party candidates which left at least nine injured while one aspirant was hospitalised with neck injuries.
About 19 million voters have been registered to take part in the election, pending a final audit to remove dead voters or double listings.