Kenya Elections Crisis

Andrew Mwangura

Seafarers’ Assistance Program

Mombasa / Kenya

05 Feb 2008

Kenya faces a serious food shortage in the near future if the on-going post-election violence is not arrested in time.

It is estimated that up to 500,000 people may have been displaced.

The loss of livelihood could result in a steep rise in poverty in the near future.

During the violence, many farms were burnt and crops lost, creating addition vulnerability not only for those who were displaced, but also for those who remained on their land.

Families will need to extend assistance to families who have lost their livelihoods and at the same time host families who have been receiving displaced people since the violence broken out last December.

The crisis has drastically affected the fisheries, transport and tourism industry in Kenya.

Tourism industry stands to lose US$ 3,125 million if the ongoing crisis is not resolved in good time.

The crisis continue to devastate farmers and fishermen who supply their produce to hotels as well as transporters, tour operators, airlines, employees and hotel owners all who depend on the fragile tourism industry.

Already, investors in the sector are painfully refunding monies paid in advance for bookings travelers lose hope that things will return to normal any time soon.

This development spells doom for thousands who depend on the sector.

Tourism sector has been on a roll over the past five years, from less that US $ 156.3 million in earnings per year in 2001, the sector earned US$ 937.5 million in 2006 and this was expected to grow by another 30% this year.

The industry, which until December last year was projecting US$ 1.03 billion in earnings for 2008, reports that this being the high season, investors are starting at reversed earnings.

The usually busy Mombasa International Airport, which is mainly a terminal for travelers to the Coastal towns, is now a ghost facility with deserted runways.

Bed occupancy has fallen by 50% especially in Mombasa. Until three weeks ago, tourist bookings were full up to April, when the high season ends.

The industry employees 250,000 workers directly and supports another 550,000 in auxiliary services.

Some firms have laid-off hundreds of workers and more are on their way home as scores of tourist class hotels are closing down due to lack of guests.

Some 70,000 workers are expected to be let go by March this year.

The disturbances have caused disruption to transport in the whole region; Mombasa Port is a hub for transportation of goods to the Sea Port and from the Port to East Africa, the great lake region and the Horn of Africa.

The chaos has also caused disruption of transportation of fish from Lake Victoria to Mombasa Port for export to overseas market.

Kenya’s fisheries sector is mainly composed of fresh water (Lakes, rivers and dams) and Marine (Indian Ocean), Sub-sectors with aquaculture still at infancy.

With fish production estimated at 150,000 metric tones annually, the sector contributes about 5% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had an average producer value of Kenyan Shillings 8 billion in 2006 and supported about 500,000 people the same year.

There are about 50,000 people working in the sector directly mainly as fishermen, traders, processors and employees.

Taking advantage of the ongoing chaos in the country which has caused break down in law and order, local fishing trawlers are fishing without fishing permit and are fishing below 5 nautical miles from the shoreline.

Due to corruption the local trawlers are fishing illegal with the full knowledge of the law enforcement agencies and the officials of the fisheries department.

Kenya is being held captive by a group of people whose primary objectives is to rig the presidential elections and to inflame ethnic hatred and cause death, destruction and displacement.

Controversial Elections:

The results for 2007 general elections were doctored and they fell short of international standards leading to the heavy loss of life counting wide. Many more are in hospital nursing injuries.

There was lack of transparency in the tallying of results which gave President Mwai Kibaki victory, raising doubt about their accuracy.

Serious inconsistencies and anomalies in results announced by the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) led to differences in the Presidential results declared by ECK and those reported by observers.

Results from polling stations in the Central Province were altered and some had difference of more than 50,000 in the number of Presidential and Parliamentary votes.

Competition among the candidates in the national elections was unfair as there was abuse of state resources while government controlled Kenya Broadcasting Co-operative was biased in its coverage of campaigns.

In the damning admission the ECK Chairman announced the Presidential election results under pressure from leaders of Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU).

During the Campaign period freedom of speech was generating respected.

However, on the announcement of the final results for the presidential elections at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi Journalists were ejected from the building.

Immediately following the announcement a directive from the Internal Security Minister ordered broadcasters to suspend all the live broadcast, seriously infringing the right of the media to report without undue state interference.

In more than a third of Polling Station visited by observers, the results were not posted at the polling stations level, fundamentally undermining transparency measures in the process.

It hurts very much to say that observers encountered difficulties in obtaining results from returning officers at most polling stations in Central Province and parts of Eastern and Coast Provinces.

In Central, Coast and Eastern Provinces results were withheld and only released to observers after confirmation by ECK officers in Nairobi.

Whilst results of the elections were announced, the official figures for all the 210 constituencies in the country are not available and adequate measures have not been taken at all levels to ensure the results can be core-related in the public domain.

In one constituency the figure released at the counting hall was 50,145 votes for President Kibaki but the ECK announced 75,261.

In another constituency in Central Province, counting for Presidential votes was suspended at one O’clock in the night without any explanation.

In many constituencies in Central Province, observers were told that they could only get the results of the presidential elections after the returning officers returned from Nairobi.

It is disheartening to state here in that more that 900 people were killed while about 300,000 are displaced and several others seriously injured following the disputed victory of President Kibaki in the 2007 General Elections.

While the media is reporting that post-elections violence in Kenya stems from tribal rivalries a closer analysis shows that the real root cause of the growing crisis lie on deep economic injustice, a skewed distribution of political power, political manipulation of ethnic identities and the persistent failure to respect civil liberties and democratic processes.

Although Kenya is touted as a growing economic, (economic miracle with a 5% annual economic growth rate), the benefits have largely been concentrated around a small elite.

An incredible 60% of Nairobi residents live in slum areas and more than a half of the people in Kenya live on less than US$ 1 a day.

Poverty and inequality are a regular fact of life, with Kenyans exposed to enormous vulnerability in almost every shape of life: income; access to education water and health; and life expectancy.

The majority of Kenyans live day to day, earning an amount which is not enough to pay for their daily needs.

Frustration and hopelessness are the inevitable result of this kind of daily struggle and socio-economic exclusion. It is these underlying conditions and facts which made most Kenyans peg their hopes on favorable outcome during the just ended general elections.

As this is a serious violation of human rights we call for internationally supervised forensic audit of the vote to discover whether a recount could be reliably conducted or whether a new round of voting is needed.

In any event, a re-run must not be supervised by the current Electoral Commission, for this Electoral body has lost integrity and in the eyes of majority it is not a credible out-fit to oversee any election process.


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