International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Survey: Public anxiety rising in Kenya as 2012 election approaches

It has to come pass. The prediction by many Kenya watchers that the closer the next election, the more the country’s energies will be channelled to the 2012 polls rather than the changes needed to make sure there is no repeat of the violence that followed the 2007 election.

The latest survey points to this. The majority of Kenyans remain happy with the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuing the suspected key perpetrators of the December 2007-February 2008 violence. However, a growing number are now expressing their unhappiness with the process compared to before. Also, though a majority of Kenyans feel safer now than the period just after the post-election violence, a growing number are feeling unsafe compared to before.

These are some of the highlights of the latest survey commissioned by South Consulting as part of its quarterly tracking of developments surrounding the political agreements signed to end the violence that followed Kenya’s last presidential election. South Consulting, an independent research firm, prepares a quarterly report for the Kofi Annan-led mediation team that was instrumental in ending that conflict.

Kenya is scheduled to hold its next election in August 2012, though there is also debate around the exact date the poll is to be held.

In a survey conducted this June, 51 percent of the respondents said that they are happy with the ICC pursuing the six suspected masterminds of the Kenya violence, while 38 percent said they are not happy. This is up from 15 percent respondents who said they were unhappy with the ICC pursuing the six suspects in a December 2010 survey.

“National political discourses linking succession politics to the ICC intervention in the Kenya situation have increased public anxiety around uncertainties regarding the ICC outcome and the 2012 General Election,” says South Consulting in its report covering the period April to June 2011.

“These fears are fanned by the lack of progress in addressing impunity and undertaking reforms envisaged in 2008 to prevent the recurrence of violence,” the report continues. “The number of Kenyans feeling uncertain about future peace and stability has increased over the past six months, and is bound to rise further as 2012 approaches.”

This is also reflected in the responses to the question, thinking about your safety now compared to just after the 2007 General Election, do you feel safer? In the June 2011 survey, 50 percent of the respondents said they felt safe, a significant drop from the 72 percent of respondents who said they felt safer in a December 2010 survey.

The report does, however, point out that most respondents do not feel that continuing the ICC process will trigger any violence. The report does warn though, that the high cost of living has become a “new” grievance for the average Kenyan and could become a fault line if no action is taken to address the issue. Inflation in Kenya has been rising steadily for the past six months, reaching 14.49 percent last month. Prices of some staple foods has doubled within that period, making it difficult for people to make ends meet and fuelling public discontent with the government.

The report also covers other issues such as the implementation of the new constitution and the perceived performance of the coalition government.

The complete report and its annex can be downloaded from www.dialoguekenya.org.

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