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Kenya

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

Unchanged Situation

Political parties held chaotic primaries ahead of August general elections as supporters disrupted voting to denounce methods used for selecting candidates and voting irregularities. Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primaries sparked infighting: party supporters 1 April protested in Mombasa county over alleged issuance of direct tickets to certain candidates, prompting party to postpone primaries in Kilifi and Mombasa counties. Deputy President William Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) primaries also marred by tensions: unidentified individuals in Kangaru town, Embu county, 13 April burnt ballot boxes and ransacked lorry carrying ballot material, while candidates in Bomet county next day urged vote suspension, claiming some ballots were pre-marked. All primaries however finalised by 22 April deadline. In other incidents of political violence, crowd 1 April stoned helicopter carrying ODM presidential candidate Odinga in Uasin Gishu county; unidentified assailants 3 April killed businessman and aspiring member of County Assembly Thomas Okari in Kisii county; gunmen 6 April reportedly attacked rally of Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen in Kapetwa area, injuring two. Meanwhile, violence related to cattle raiding, land and pasture access continued in Isiolo, Marsabit, Baringo, West Pokot, Turkana and Garissa counties. Notably, in Isiolo, armed individuals 8 and 18 April killed 14 people in Burat area and Tigania village. Unidentified gunmen 28 April killed at least five people including local govt officials who were pursuing stolen cattle in Awaye area, Marsabit. World Food Programme 19 April said severe drought has left over 3mn Kenyans acutely food insecure. Following arrears in govt subsidies for oil companies amid global fuel price increases, fuel shortages throughout month led to petrol rationing and hours-long queues at petroleum retails stations across country.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Dec 2021
If [Kenyan President] Kenyatta can achieve a ceasefire that potentially stops a catastrophic confrontation among warring actors in Ethiopia, that would give him quite an extraordinary win. The New Statesman

Murithi Mutiga

Program Director, Africa
16 Jun 2020
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. The New Humanitarian

Omar Mahmood

Senior Analyst, Somalia
15 Mar 2018
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. World Politics Review

Murithi Mutiga

Program Director, Africa
9 Mar 2018
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. Reuters

EJ Hogendoorn

Former Deputy Program Director, Africa
9 Mar 2018
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. Reuters

Murithi Mutiga

Program Director, Africa
2 Feb 2018
While we were hoping that [Kenya], after a bruising election season, could pull together, that seems a lost hope. The Wall Street Journal

Murithi Mutiga

Program Director, Africa

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