Supporting Peace in Kenya Monthly Update
Greetings from Washington, DC (and welcome to those who have just joined our Kenya monthly updates).
New FCNL Policy Brief: Military Might or Peaceful Prevention?
As Kenya’s elections approach, FCNL is increasingly concerned about the direction U.S. policy may take. Earlier this month, we released a new policy brief focused on how U.S. investment in counterterrorism operations and military assistance could exacerbate current instability in Kenya and undermine peace in the long-term. Read the brief and learn more.
FCNL is particularly worried about the United States’ recent decision to send surveillance drones to Kenya, reflecting an escalation of the militaristic U.S. strategy. The drones, which will be used to help track and target extremist militants in Somalia, risk further threatening the safety of Somali people and increasing retaliatory attacks against Kenyan communities.
Quakers Building Community
A few weeks ago, the Quaker collaboration group to prevent violent conflict in Kenya held its monthly conference call. The Friends Church Peace Team reported on its continuing work toward a grassroots election monitoring system, which will allow Alternatives to Violence facilitators and others in Kenyan Friends’ peacebuilding networks to send text message updates on any incidences of violence in their communities.
Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI), based in Nairobi, is responding to rising tension between Christians and Muslims in the city’s informal settlements. July’s attacks on churches in a town near Kenya’s border with Somalia have heightened divisions, and CAPI has worked to facilitate interfaith dialogue since.
Updates from Kenya
Last week, at least 48 Kenyans were killed in an attack on Reketa village in Tana River, southeastern Kenya. The violence was part of ethnic clashes between two tribes, and local residents have cited the approaching elections as a source of rising aggression. The deadly conflict underscores the immediate need for community-based violence prevention and peacebuilding, which will only increase as the polls draw nearer.
Unfortunately, Reketa is not the only area experiencing growing tension. Another is Kenya’s coast, where the recent death of a Muslim cleric has led to protests and conflicts with police. Tensions have also risen around a growing secessionist movement, known as the Mombasa Republican Council, which seeks to address the decades of marginalization and inequity experienced by those living on the coast. The Kenyan government recently decided to lift its ban on the group, and some feel this will allow more space for non-violent paths forward. In the meantime, however, others are increasingly concerned about the impact the divide may have during the next polls.
While in Kenya earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted U.S. support for a peaceful, fair election. The visit was an important one, particularly as Kenyan experts have emphasized the need for vocal diplomatic engagement from the international community. The visit was also an important follow-up to the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Gen. Scott Gration, in late June. While the appointment of a new ambassador will likely be slow going, FCNL has joined others in advocating that the position be filled by someone with deep conflict prevention expertise.
Congress is currently in recess, but stay tuned for opportunities to take action as the budget process moves forward this fall.
Best wishes until next month,
Kenya Project Associate