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Kenya: 'brutal' murder of election official raises fears over voter safety

“This brutal murder has sent a chill down the spine of many Kenyans and raised the spectre of violence” - Muthoni Wanyeki

Kenyan government officials threaten journalists to prevent broadcasting of live election results

Concrete measures must be taken to address climate of fear

The chilling murder of a top electoral commission official and increasing threats from Kenyan politicians to clamp down on civilians’ right to access and share information are creating a climate of fear in the country that must be properly addressed, warned Amnesty International today, ahead of next week’s election.

Earlier this week (July 31), Chris Msando, who oversaw the electronic voting system at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), was found murdered, three days after his family reported him missing to the police.

Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

“This brutal murder has sent a chill down the spine of many Kenyans and raised the spectre of violence.

“Msando’s murder is the most horrendous incident this election year, but it is not the only one with the potential to sow fear. Numerous threatening statements have been made by high-ranking officials and politicians that infringe on people’s rights to freedom of expression and to access information.”

Statements by some government officials have been a cause for concern. Joe Mucheru, Information Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary, has threatened to revoke media houses’ licences if they broadcast live the results announced by the electoral commission.

Muthoni Wanyeki said:

“The government must take concrete measures to calm this tense situation and to reassure voters that their safety is a priority. This means launching an independent and effective investigation into Chris Msando’s murder and holding those responsible to account.

“The authorities must also desist from remarks that threaten journalists and civil society organisations. Media houses must be able to broadcast results as soon as they are announced by electoral officers at polling stations and constituency tallying centres, and to keep their own running tally of nationwide results.”

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