CNN logo
Message Boards 

CNN Networks 

Quick News 
Video Vault 
News Quiz 

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Election Watch grfk

Q & A

World banner

Violence increases before Kenyans go to the polls

December 28, 1997
Web posted at: 2:01 p.m. EST (1901 GMT)

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Three people were killed Sunday in ethnic violence on the eve of general elections that are expected to return President Daniel arap Moi for a fifth and final term as head of state.

Police in the tension-ridden southwestern province of Nyanza, known as Trans Mara, said a gang of Masai men attacked the village of Ekona Yangare about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Kisii, murdering the members of an ethnic Kisii family with cutlasses and wounding four other people.

The Masai, Kisii and Luo have frequently clashed in Nyanza over land and grazing rights.

Key facts of Kenyan elections:
  • There are 9,030,141 registered voters from a population of about 28 million people.

  • Incumbent President Daniel arap Moi, who has been in office since 1978, is seeking his fifth five-year term. The 73-year-old politician faces 14 opposition candidates.

  • About 883 candidates from 23 parties are competing for 210 seats in the new National Assembly. Moi's ruling KANU had a majority in the old parliament.

  • Overall, there are 8,466 candidates in 2,955 local wards.

  • Voting in the presidential, parliamentary and civic elections starts at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) Monday and continues for 12 hours.

    Some residents blamed supporters of Moi's ruling KANU party for the pre-election violence, which they said was meant to intimidate Kisii residents into staying away from the polls.

    Police in Nyanza province also said one police officer and an unknown number of civilians were injured in election clashes in the lakeside town of Homa Bay.

    Nyanza has had several violent incidents in recent weeks, and Moi declared it a security zone until after the vote. Two paramilitary policemen were killed in fighting in Kisii two weeks ago and police said more than 50 people had died in tit-for-tat killings in the past months.

    The reports came only hours after the electoral commission appealed to the electorate to vote, saying that security would be guaranteed.

    "The government has assured the commission that there will be adequate security for all the voters, candidates, their agents, the electoral commission, observers, newspeople and all Kenyans and foreigners," commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu said Sunday.

    The three main independent monitoring groups warned Saturday that violence and vote-buying could disrupt the election, and they expressed concern.

    Moi likely to face tough issues

    One opinion poll predicted that Moi would get about 40 percent of the vote, more than double his closest challenger, former Vice President Mwai Kibaki.

    Whoever is declared the winner inherits an economy thrown off course by years of political infighting, bad management and a level of official graft that even Moi agrees is unacceptable.

    "We can't have another five years of this ... of all that confrontation," lamented Micah Cheserem, Kenya's Central Bank governor. "We have not shot ourselves in the foot, but almost in the heart," he said.

    If Moi is elected to a fifth and final term, he knows the existing factions in his KANU party could take their fight to succeed him into the open.

    "I think it will be a furious struggle for the succession. And it will not be over in six months," a senior Western diplomat in Nairobi predicted.

    Under Kenya's constitution, the president has more power than parliament. But if the KANU party fails to win a majority in the new 222-seat National Assembly, as some observers predict, the opposition will have a political edge.

    Opposition cites irregularities

    The opposition already has cried foul, saying years of diversion of state resources to KANU causes and a daily diet of Moi propaganda in state media will prevent a fair election.

    The opposition also claims that millions of Kenyans were disenfranchised by what they claim is an unfair voter-registration process.

    The mood in the opposition camp and the call for an election boycott by veteran dissenter Kenneth Matiba could lead to a low turnout, to the advantage of Moi and his party, observers say.

    More than one opposition parliamentary candidate claims to have been abducted and intimidated by KANU sympathizers. One says Moi telephoned her during her overnight detention in a police station and encouraged her to withdraw from the race.

    Reuters contributed to this report.


    Related stories:

    Related sites:

    Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

    External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

    Infoseek search  

      further reading on Kenya
    Message Boards Sound off on our
    message boards & chat

    Back to the top

    © 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.
    A Time Warner Company
    All Rights Reserved.

    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines.