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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.

CrisisWatch Kenya

Deteriorated Situation

In run-up to 8 Aug elections, Al-Shabaab intensified attacks in Lamu county on coast and political tensions rose amid election-related violence. Some 200 Al-Shabaab militants attacked Pandanguo police station 5 July killing at least three officers; suspected militants beheaded nine civilians in Jima area 8 July; militants ambushed govt convoy in Milihoi on Lamu-Mpeketoni road 13 July killing at least four security officers and one civilian and briefly abducting senior official. Govt 8 July imposed three-month curfew in Lamu, Garissa and Tana River counties. Security forces 10 July said they had launched airstrikes on Al-Shabaab stronghold Boni forest in Lamu county. Some 30 Al-Shabaab militants 18 July made abortive attempt to attack police station in Mokowe, Lamu county; no casualties reported. Court of Appeal 20 July overturned 7 July decision by High Court to cancel award of tender to print ballot papers to Dubai-based firm which opposition said had links to ruling Jubilee party. Police shot dead gunman 30 July eighteen hours after he broke into Deputy President Ruto’s home compound near Eldoret in west, killing one guard and wounding another. Electoral commission’s head of IT, missing since 28 July, found dead 31 July, commission said he had been tortured and murdered.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

18 Aug 2017
Many politicians don't do their jobs properly so there's continual frustration [in Kenya]. But now at least people know they can have some say in how their resources are managed. Reuters

Murithi Mutiga

Senior Analyst, Horn of Africa
14 Aug 2017
It can be argued that fake news in the lead-up to the [Kenyan] elections was just aimed at boosting political support. Now, when it’s a question of life or death, it’s much more dangerous. Los Angeles Times

Murithi Mutiga

Senior Analyst, Horn of Africa
7 Aug 2017
After independence, the politicians found this system of ethnic politics convenient. In Kenya, unfortunately, they continued to use ethnicity as the main tool on which to run elections. Los Angeles Times

Murithi Mutiga

Senior Analyst, Horn of Africa
5 Aug 2017
[Kenyan] politics now remain really in the grip of a few ethnic, oligarchic families that essentially practice ‘machine’ politics. AP

Murithi Mutiga

Senior Analyst, Horn of Africa
3 Aug 2017
[D]evolution [in Kenya] is both a blessing and a curse. [I]t has been very successful in creating local accountability ... but it has also devolved quite a few problems. AFP

Murithi Mutiga

Senior Analyst, Horn of Africa
31 Jul 2017
[The murder of Senior Kenyan election official Chris Msando] will definitely raise suspicions and undermine public confidence in the outcome [of the presidential elections]. Reuters

Rashid Abdi

Project Director, Horn of Africa

Latest Updates

Commentary / Africa

Essential Guide to Kenya’s High Stakes Election on 8 August

Kenya’s 8 August elections are rapidly approaching and concerns continue to mount over the prospect of electoral violence. In this Q&A, Senior Kenya Analyst Murithi Mutiga looks at what is at stake and assesses efforts to prevent another violent fallout from the balloting.

Commentary / Africa

Violence, Land, and the Upcoming Vote in Kenya’s Laikipia Region

Crisis Group’s Senior Analyst Murithi Mutiga has just returned from a weeklong tour of the troubled central Kenyan county of Laikipia, where violence between indigenous nomadic pastoralists and ranchers is escalating in the run-up to elections scheduled for 8 August.

Commentary / Africa

Ethnic Contest and Electoral Violence in Northern Kenya

Kenya’s 2010 constitution was intended to end fierce electoral battles, but in the northern counties of Isiolo and Marsabit it has exacerbated ethnic and border tensions. To prevent these issues causing electoral violence in August, stakeholders should deploy more personnel and work toward intercommunal reconciliation.

Commentary / Africa

August Election Tensions Rise in Storied Kenyan County

The stakes are high in contests for local power in Kenya’s August 2017 elections. There is still time for the government and international donors to help avert a replay of past electoral violence, notably by renewing support for local peace committees.

Briefing / Africa

Kenya’s Coast: Devolution Disappointed

Six new coastal counties created by Kenya’s 2010 constitution have replicated the closely-held patronage politics of the former Coast province, adding to inefficiencies, costs and mutual suspicions. To maximise the potential of devolution – and prevent militants like Al-Shabaab exploiting popular disappointment – Nairobi and the new counties need to become more cooperative, open to dialogue, and inclusive, especially toward marginalised youth.