UN Human Rights Chief Urges Kenyan Leaders to Avoid Violence

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy
High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Pierre Albouy

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Tuesday commended the peaceful voting in the recent presidential election in Kenya.

But he urged Kenya’s political leaders “to take the responsible path and exercise their leadership to avoid violence.”

The UN Human Rights Chief expressed concern about reports that Kenyan security forces used live ammunition against protesters, and about reports of police brutality, leading to several deaths and injuries, including children.

Protests erupted after the announcement of results on 11 August, with instances of individuals resorting to stone throwing, looting and destruction of property.

[ Opposition Leaders Dispute Election Results in Kenya ]

“Kenya is at a critical juncture,” Zeid said. “The country’s political leaders must do their utmost to calm a volatile political climate. If there are claims to make about the conduct of the elections, they should be made through constitutional and legal means.”

Zeid also expressed deep concern that Kenya’s NGO Coordination Board called for a prominent NGO, the African Centre for Open Governance (AFRICOG) to be shut down and for its directors and members to be arrested.

This comes after Monday’s decision by the NGO Coordination Board to de-register another well-respected NGO, the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

The High Commissioner called for civil society actors and media to be allowed to work without hindrance or fear of retaliation.

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Rakesh Raman