Ten years after a disputed presidential poll brought Kenya to the brink of civil war, the August 2017 general election was won comfortably by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Although reforms introduced in the 2010 constitution have helped avert large-scale fighting, sporadic outbreaks of violence followed claims by opposition leader Raila Odinga that results had been manipulated. Ethnic divisions continue to be a key driver of electoral violence in Kenya and must be addressed by the government through reforms aimed at a more inclusive democracy. By engaging relevant actors and carrying out field-based research, we work at the national and local levels to build sustainable peace and to help advance reforms that can consolidate democratic gains.
Al-Shabaab is targeting teachers in order to expel those it views as outsiders from majority-Muslim north-eastern Kenya. The government’s response – to evacuate non-native tutors – has shuttered the area’s schools. Nairobi should supply funds to hire local educators, while it works to restore security.
Tensions rose with Somalia, with both countries deploying troops to shared border, while Al-Shabaab intensified attacks in north and east. President Kenyatta mid-Dec received President Bihi of Somalia’s breakaway state Somaliland in capital Nairobi; counterparts announced that Kenya would open consulate in Somaliland’s capital and that Somaliland would upgrade its liaison office in Nairobi by March; during Bihi’s visit, Somalia 15 Dec cut diplomatic relations with Kenya for “constantly interfering” in its internal affairs. In following days, both Kenya and Somalia reportedly deployed forces along common border to Mandera county and Gedo region respectively. Somalia 19 Dec accused Kenya of hosting and arming Somali militia to launch cross-border attacks and said it would take “all necessary steps” to protect its “territorial integrity”. Kenyatta and Somalia President Farmajo 20 Dec met during summit of regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development. Djibouti 25 Dec deployed fact-finding mission to assess situation at Somalia-Kenya border. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab 2 Dec attacked Amuma police station, injuring police officer. In Wajir county in north east, Al-Shabaab 18 Dec abducted local official in Gumarey sub-location and later beheaded him. In Lamu county in east, Al-Shabaab 20 Dec ambushed police escort vehicle on Lamu-Gamba road, no casualties reported; security forces 27 Dec shot and killed seven Al-Shabaab militants in Boni forest. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab 29 Dec ambushed ambulance, killing civilian. In border area between Garissa and Isiolo counties, clashes between ethnic Borana and Somali 1 Dec left seven dead. In Mombasa county in south, police 1 Dec arrested 91 suspected members of separatist Mombasa Republican Council in Mirironi village. Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s signature campaign to trigger referendum on constitutional reform concluded 4 Dec; electoral commission 30 Dec started to verify signatures.
Firefights have broken out between federal Somali soldiers and troops from the Jubaland region. A heightened confrontation could embolden Al-Shabaab’s Islamist insurgency. The African Union should press Ethiopia and Kenya, which back Mogadishu and Kismayo, respectively, to coax the two sides into negotiations.
Al-Shabaab remains focused on recapturing power in Somalia, but it continues to plot attacks in Kenya and Tanzania – and perhaps in Uganda as well. To counter the movement, East African states should eschew heavy-handed crackdowns and work instead to reduce its appeal to potential recruits.
The meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga was an important step toward ending the protracted crisis over last year’s disputed election. To build on the progress, consensus is required on concrete steps that can help safeguard against future polarisation and violence.
The rerun of Kenya’s presidential elections scheduled on 26 October risks escalating a political crisis, as the main opposition leader has withdrawn and the risk of violence is high. The election commission should seek from the Supreme Court a 30-45 day delay to the vote. Kenya’s political leaders should support such an extension and commit to participate.
Following the annulment of August’s historic vote, Kenya must hold repeat presidential elections by 1 November. But rising tensions and the threat of an opposition boycott could result in missing the vote's deadline and risk a constitutional crisis. Both political camps must move away from harsh words and find mutually acceptable electoral reforms to allow elections to proceed.
Northern Kenya is increasingly looking like an area that al-Shabab seeks to incorporate under its rule rather than just using it as a rear base.
When [Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga] has a seat at the table, you expect that there will be less inclination to behave irresponsibly and to close down the democratic space.
The U.S. is no longer the dominant external actor in Africa, and must compete for influence not only with China, but a host of other, increasingly assertive, states pursuing their own agendas.
It is vital that [Kenya’s President Kenyatta and opposition leader Odinga] invest heavily in ensuring that a more lasting settlement emerges from their talks.
While we were hoping that [Kenya], after a bruising election season, could pull together, that seems a lost hope.
[Kenya's President] Kenyatta, by resisting all attempts at dialogue, has put himself in a position where he will continue to struggle to be seen as the president of all Kenyans.
The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell joins five Crisis Group analysts to analyse the pandemic's political and economic implications.
The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this episode, Alan Boswell is joined by Rashid Abdi, Consultant and former Horn of Africa Director at Crisis Group, to discuss Kenya and Somalia's fight over their shared maritime border.
The Horn of Africa faces myriad crises. Beyond the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19 on politics and the economy, the region is grappling with deeply troubled transitions, cross-border jihadism and remains a playground for great power competition. In this Episode, Host Alan Boswell and Host Alan Boswell and autor Nanjala Nyabola discuss everything from digital colonialism and the exploitation of technology by state powers to the democratising potential of social media.