Fahamu (Oxford)

21 February 2013

Kenya: Fears of Poll Violence as Mungiki Re-Emerges

opinion

There are rising fears that Mungiki is regrouping to possibly unleash another orgy of deadly violence should their preferred candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta, lose the presidential contest.

In recent months, media in Kenya has reported the re-emergence of the terror group Mungiki in parts of the central region. Mungiki, an exclusively Kikuyu ethnic militia, has over the years been blamed for atrocious violence and extortion in central Kenya, the Rift Valley and Nairobi.

Mungiki's last known leader was Maina Njenga, who announced two years ago that he had converted to Christianity and is now seeking election as senator for Nairobi County. No one speaks for the proscribed underground militia nowadays.

The group is accused of having been used by powerful politicians to conduct retaliatory attacks in Nairobi and Rift Valley during the 2007-2008 post-election violence. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court alleges that Mungiki leaders held a meeting at State House, the president's official residence in Nairobi, to plot the attacks.

Several Mungiki leaders were killed in mysterious circumstances or disappeared after the post-election violence.

Four Kenyans, including Jubilee Coalition presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto, will stand trial from April 10 at the ICC for crimes against humanity committed in the 2007-2008 polls chaos.

Now, with another hotly contested election only days away on March 4, there are rising fears that Mungiki is regrouping possibly to stage another orgy of violence should their preferred candidate, Uhuru, lose the presidential contest.

There are eight presidential candidates in this election. The latest opinion polls show that the contest is between Uhuru and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) candidate Prime Minister Raila Odinga, with Raila leading by two percentage points at most. Pollsters are also predicting a second round, as neither of the two is likely to meet the high constitutional threshold for a straight win on March 4.

On Wednesday, 20 February, a CORD campaign convoy was attacked by youths in Kiambu County, a Uhuru stronghold neighbouring Nairobi City, where Mungiki is believed to have reactivated its networks.

The incident comes less than two weeks after gangs of youths attempted to disrupt Odinga's campaign rallies in parts of central Kenya.

On the day of the latest attack, Kenya's Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court Dr Willy Mutunga issued a statement (see next report) stating that he had received a letter purportedly from Mungiki threatening him and High Court judges. The threat was connected to an integrity case concerning Uhuru and Ruto that was coming up for a ruling.

Kenyan media has reported that, days before the letter was sent to the Chief Justice, a close ally of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr. Kabando wa Kabando, issued a threat to the judges similar to that contained in the Mungiki letter.

These recent developments have led to increased anxiety, with reports saying non-Kikuyu citizens living in central Kenya are relocating to safer places, despite repeated government assurances of increased security during the election period.

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