The official campaign period for the Kenyan general elections, scheduled to take place on August 8, officially started on Sunday May 28. To date, the Electoral Commission has reportedly registered eight candidates for the presidency and received about 10,000 applications for parliamentary, governor, and local assembly posts. The two main political parties taking part in the elections - the Jubilee movement lead by current President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will then seek reelection, and the National Super Alliance (NASA), a coalition of opposition parties led by Raila Odinga - have both begun to rally their supporters and target undecided voters.
During this period, protests and political violence cannot be ruled out. The US State Department has warned its citizens in Kenya to avoid all gatherings and demonstrations through August due to the heightened risk of violent unrest.
Kenya's primary elections, which took place between April 13 and April 30, were marked by violence and numerous irregularities. More than 60 people were charged with electoral offenses following chaos and violence during party primaries. In Nairobi, one person was killed and another seriously injured during clashes between rival candidates. Similar violent scenes were reported in Migori and Busia (west), both fiefs of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), an opposition party lead by Raila Odinga. In Kisumu county, security forces reportedly used teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters that erected roadblocks and burned tires following the announcement of the county's election results on April 26. The Kenyan National Police Service has announced plans to recruit 10,000 additional police officers ahead of the August 8 elections.
Presidential elections in 2007 were also marred by violence, resulting in an estimated 1200 deaths. Protests after elections in 2013, in which there were claims of fraud after many of the electronic voting systems failed, resulted in several deaths.
Meanwhile, Kenya has more recently experienced increasingly frequent bouts of sociopolitical and socioeconomic unrest, sectarian tensions, and intercommunal violence. The country has witnessed major demonstrations by public and private sector workers, as well as by opposition parties, in recent months. Security forces often use a heavy-handed approach in quelling protests.
Individuals in Kenya are advised to avoid all public gatherings (particularly polling stations or political events) due to the likelihood of violence and to monitor the situation.
On separate note, due to the significant terrorist threat, individuals present in Kenya are advised to remain vigilant, to report any suspicious objects or behavior to the relevant authorities, and to be particularly cautious when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (government buildings, places of worship, tourist sites, etc.).
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