Recent events in Kenya, including the chilling murder of a top electoral commission official, are creating a cloud of fear that must be properly addressed, warned Amnesty International today, ahead of next week’s election.
Chris Msando, who was in charge of the electronic voting system at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), was found murdered three days after his family reported him missing to the police.
“This brutal murder has sent a chill down the spine of many Kenyans and raised the spectre of violence,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“Msando’s murder is the most horrendous incident this election year, but it is not the only one with the potential to sow fear. Numerous threatening statements have been made by high-ranking officials and politicians that infringe on people’s rights to freedom of expression and to access information.”
Statements by some government officials have been a cause for concern. Information Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has threatened to revoke media houses’ licenses if they broadcast live the results announced by the electoral commission.
“The government must take concrete measures to calm this tense situation and to reassure voters that their safety is a priority. This means launching an independent and effective investigation into Chris Msando’s murder and holding those responsible to account,” said Muthoni Wanyeki.
“The authorities must also desist from remarks that threaten journalists and civil society organizations. Media houses must be able to broadcast results as soon as they are announced by electoral officers at polling station and constituency tallying centres, and to keep their own running tally of nationwide results.”