Advisory: Covering the Kenyan election re-run

Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled the presidential elections held in August because of irregularities and has scheduled a new vote for 26 October. The opposition has threatened to boycott but with ballot papers arriving, the poll looks set to go ahead on Thursday.

Background to possible violence

  • Kenya has many unemployed people with time on their hands who can easily be incentivised to demonstrate.
  • There have been reports of roadblocks, drivers stopped and their identification documents scrutinised for tribal affiliation. This also happened before the election violence in 2007.
  • It is unclear what will happen if the election is not held by the end of October when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s constitutional mandate expires. Kenya’s attorney general has said Kenyatta could stay until a new election is arranged.
  • Kenya’s population is not prepared for violence. Some left before the last poll in August and spent the summer outside the country, but this time most plan to stay, as they can’t afford to leave for a second time.

Reporting from Kenya

  • The authorities are increasingly cracking down on personal protective equipment (PPE). Crews wearing protective gear are being harassed and carrying original copies of permits is essential at all times as the security forces are looking for excuses to arrest journalists.
  • The security forces are using tear gas liberally. Carrying gas masks and goggles is permitted and advised.
  • The government is showing far less restraint than before the August elections and is highly sensitive to any unfavourable reporting.
  • Local journalists are particularly under threat from strong-arm tactics, as is anyone doing investigative reporting.
  • As in August, the flashpoints for potential violence are Kisumu town, Mombasa, Eldoret and Nairobi.
  • Accreditation from the August poll remains valid with the exception of those requiring access to the counting centre who will need to reapply.

See our previous advisory on covering the Kenyan elections here.

This advisory is based on information provided by Salim Amin, the chairman of Camerapix, the founder of the Mohamed Amin Foundation and the co-founder of A24 Media.

Image by AFP