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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

Court dealt major blow to President Kenyatta’s attempt to amend constitution, while Al-Shabaab continued to stage attacks in north east. High Court 13 May ruled controversial attempt by President Kenyatta and de facto ally, opposition leader Raila Odinga, to amend constitution was illegal, warned civil proceedings may be instituted against Kenyatta for breaching constitution; constitutional amendment backers, Kenyatta and electoral commission late May separately appealed ruling. Move widely seen as bolstering position of Deputy President William Ruto, whose allies have opposed constitutional changes and who could vie with Odinga for presidency in 2022 elections. In further blow to Kenyatta, ruling Jubilee Party 18 May lost three parliamentary by-elections to opposition in Kiambu and Kisii counties; in Kiambu’s Juja town, police and Jubilee supporters same day clashed with opposition People’s Empowerment Party supporters over alleged voter fraud. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab-related violence continued in north east and east. Notably, in Lamu county, suspected Al-Shabaab explosive devices killed two people near Ishakani village 3 May and at least three soldiers in Baure area 18 May; in Wajir county, police 12 May killed two suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Tarbaj area; in Mandera county, suspected militants 21 May ambushed police patrol in Banisa area, killing three. Following Qatar-mediated talks, Somalia 6 May said it had restored diplomatic relations with Kenya, which had been severed since Dec 2020 over Nairobi’s alleged interference in Somali affairs. However, Kenya 10 May suspended all commercial flights to and from Somalia for three months in response to Somalia’s refusal to resume khat stimulant imports.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

Project Director, Horn of 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

Project Director, Horn of 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

Project Director, Horn of Africa
30 Jan 2018
[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. Reuters

Murithi Mutiga

Project Director, Horn of Africa

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