Tensions Remain High In Parts of Kenya as Officials Call for Calm

Tension is high in a remote village in western Kenya after a body an elderly man was discovered Sunday on a sugarcane farm. There were marks of violence on the body. The death comes a day after high government officials visited the area to calm ethnic tension.

A body of an elderly man lies on the ground outside Koguta village surrounded by angry men armed with spears, machete, bows, and arrows.

They are angry about the killing, the death of the man came a day after two communities promised to end the hostilities caused by months of political uncertainty.

Koguta sits between the Kalenjin community that supports President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Luo community that is loyal to opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The brother of the victim says enemies are trying to push the Luo off their ancestral land.

“They do not want us here. This is where I was born and my father was born here,” he said. “These people came here just the other day. They have not even been here for three years. They are the ones who have killed my brother.”

The two communities have fought over land and politics for years. This latest tension and political volatility grows out of the disputed presidential vote and weekly political protests have further damaged relations between the Luo and Kalenjin communities.

During the October 26 election, 10 percent of polling stations were closed due to demonstrations that worried electoral officials. About 35 percent of voters participated in the re-run election, compared to an 80 percent turnout in August.

Less than a kilometer away from the sugarcane farm where the body lies, a group of youth from the Kalenjin community armed with machete, bows, and arrows watch.

The armed youth told VOA their neighbors have been blocking roads in political protest, making their lives difficult and making them miss their chance to vote on Thursday.

A local area leader, Maureen Otiang, says the killing must stop.

“We do not want any Luo dying in the name of insecurity, in the name of voting. We have a right if they want peace, let them give us peace. Enough is enough we are tired,” she said.

The latest anger between the two communities reignites inter-communal fighting of 2007-2008, following a disputed presidential election. Then, more than 1,300 people died, and hundreds of thousands fled their homes.

“We want to tell the security agencies they must keep law and order and we will maintain and preach peace. But peace requires justice. We want justice to be meted on the people of Koguta. They will not be butchered again,” said Julius Genga, an area lawmaker.

Police have called on the community not to seek revenge, and vowed action against people who commit violence.

 


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