The memories of riots that rocked the African nation of Kenya after a disputed presidential result in December 2007 linger.
The demonstrations, property damage and resultant loss of lives pitted the country’s dominant tribes, the Luo’s, the Kikuyu’s and others against each other for the control of the Kenyan presidency. Six years have passed since that happened and now elections for who would take the reins from 81-year-old president Mwai Kibaki are set for March 4.
Eight candidates vying to take over from Kibaki shared the stage in an “American-style” presidential debate on February 11 in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital city. This was the first presidential debate in the country’s history.
“Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga, Peter Kenneth, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, Paul Muite, James Ole Kiyiapi and Mohammed Abduba Dida spent almost four hours answering questions from hosts Linus Kaikai of Kenya’s NTV channel and Citizen TV’s Julie Gichuru, as well as from a studio audience,” reports Bernard Momanyi courtesy of the Ground Report.
Within this group, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president Jomo Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga, current prime minister and presumed winner of the 2007 vote, are considered the front runners. Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto are facing an indictment from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their role in the 2007 post-election riots which resulted in an estimated 1,000 deaths.
Uhuru, who is currently deputy prime minister in the Kibaki administration, along with others charged in the case, remain free until the case begins at the ICC in The Hague in April.
Ahead of the March 4 vote, the international community and Kenyan citizens around the world are calling for peace.
In a YouTube video that has registered more 180,000 hits, U.S. president Barack Obama, whose father hails from Kenya, called on the Kenyan people to “come together before and after the elections to carry on the work of building your country.”
“Kenyans must resolve disputes in the courts, not in the streets,” Obama said.
In the Denver metro area, home to a burgeoning Kenyan community, a prayer for peace meeting has been set for Saturday, February 23 at 2:30 p.m. by the Colorado Kenyan Community. The event will take place at the Anchor of Hope Church in Denver, according to an email distributed by the Kenyan group.