The Urgent Need to Reduce Ethnic Conflict in Kenya
Kenyan tribes arming ahead of elections
An arms race is on between two of Kenya’s largest ethnic communities ahead of the 2012 presidential election after the last disputed vote triggered weeks of tribal bloodletting, a rights group said.
An explosive combination of a desire for revenge and lack of state security has seen Kalenjin and Kikuyu communites in Kenya’s Rift Valley stockpile firearms, said the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
“People are arming themselves with sophisticated firearms because there are certain communities who are saying enough is enough, the state cannot protect us … we lost lives, we lost property, we lost our humanity,” Ken Wafula, head of the group, told Reuters.
More than 1,300 people were killed in the post-election fighting in early 2008 and 300,000 were uprooted, triggering investigations into crimes against humanity.
Wafula said politicians were spearheading fundraising campaings to buy weapons such as AK-47 rifles and pistols. He said state security officials were not only turning a blind eye to the activity but actually assisting the amassing of firearms.
“State security machinery at the top level are involved. They are right in the middle of the arms race,” Wafula said in an interview in the Rift Valley town of Eldoret.