Kenyans buy arms in case of chaos: report


Kenyans could be arming themselves ahead of the March General Election as they believe little has done for their security.

A report by the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Small Arms Survey released this month says Kenyans are “highly concerned” about their safety during and after the elections and have bought guns or relocated to places they see as safer.

“Specifically, 48.4 per cent felt unsafe during political campaigns: an understandable anxiety given Kenya’s recent political history and its recurrent electoral violence,” says the report Political conflict and vulnerabilities: Firearms and electoral violence in Kenya.

It says previous experience when chaos erupted after elections has instilled fear among people, many of who have bought arms.

“Households in which a member had been a victim of crime were significantly more fearful of their safety during political campaigns. Households that admitted owning firearms cited electioneering as the period when they feel most unsafe,” it says.

“In the absence of reliable security guarantees for all citizens, regardless of their ethnicity and region, fear of electoral violence will rise and citizens may resort to self-help arrangements such as acquiring arms, organising gangs, and conducting retaliatory attacks,” says the report.

Since the introduction of multi-party democracy, Kenya has erupted into violence almost every time polls are held. The report says more than 4,000 people, including 1,133 in 2008, have been killed since 1992, 1.6 million displaced and property worth more than Sh5 billion destroyed.

Even though violence has often been confined to Coast, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces, there are fears it could erupt anywhere because of increasing self-arming.

Although the report says as many as a third of Kenyans could be having guns, they still feel unsafe.

The report says armed conflicts among pastoralists should not be overlooked as they could fuel post-election chaos as people rush to get arms through the same channels as the herders.

Last year, it was estimated there were almost 500,000 illegal arms in Kenya.


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