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Govt and opposition traded accusations of misconduct during August elections, while Al-Shabaab and cattle rustlers carried out deadly attacks.
Govt and opposition argued over presidential election results. President Ruto 17 Jan made unsubstantiated allegation of plot to assassinate electoral commission’s former Chairman Wafula Chebukati for allegedly refusing to rig Aug 2022 presidential election in favour of opposition leader Raila Odinga. At opposition coalition Azimio la Umoja rally gathering thousands in capital Nairobi, Odinga 23 Jan urged supporters to “resist” Ruto’s govt, calling it “illegitimate” and demanding its resignation.
Al-Shabaab launched new attacks in east along border with Somalia. In Garissa county, explosive device likely planted by Al-Shabaab combatants 11 Jan killed four road workers between Garissa and Bura towns, while security forces 18 Jan killed ten suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Galmagalla village.
Deadly cattle raids continued in drought-affected north west. Unidentified gunmen 1 Jan killed two girls and stole 70 heads of cattle in Kotut village, Elgeyo-Marakwet county; another cattle raid 12 Jan reportedly left eight people dead in Laisamis town, Marsabit county.
Nairobi’s efforts at regional diplomacy continued. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and President Ruto 9, 10 Jan respectively met Vice-Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti” in Nairobi, reportedly to discuss Sudan’s possible reintegration into African Union among other matters (see Sudan). Representatives of M23 rebel group 12 Jan met East African Community facilitator for peace process in eastern DR Congo (DRC), Uhuru Kenyatta, in Kenya’s Mombasa city, reiterated readiness to withdraw from captured territory in DRC’s North Kivu province and adhere to ceasefire (see DR Congo).
President Ruto suspended election commissioners who rejected his electoral victory as president, and Al-Shabaab carried out deadly attacks near Somalia border.
President Ruto suspended several election commissioners. Ruto 2 Dec ordered suspension and investigation of four commissioners of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) who had refused to endorse his win in August presidential election, accusing them of trying to subvert election results in favour of runner-up Raila Odinga; Odinga same day condemned suspensions, saying move aimed to skew IEBC in favour of Ruto. Three commissioners facing dismissal resigned in following days, avoiding investigation into past conduct, while tribunal 20 Dec commenced hearings to consider petition for removal of fourth one.
Al-Shabaab launched deadly attacks near Somalia border. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 11 Dec killed two civilians in ambush between Jabibar and Bambo villages in Mandera county. Al-Shabaab militants 21 Dec attacked police vehicle between Hayley Lapsset security camp and Garissa town in Garissa county, killing two officers and one civilian. In Lamu county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants overnight 24-25 Dec killed two villagers in Pandaguo area; bomb blast 30 Dec killed one soldier and injured at least four others in Mlima Faru area. Amid Somali offensive against Al-Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia, local media 10 Dec reported that additional security forces had deployed to border in anticipation of influx of militants.
In other important developments. In Meru county (important Ruto stronghold in Mount Kenya region), members of county assembly 14 Dec voted to impeach Governor Kawira Mwangaza over nepotism and other accusations; Senate committee 30 Dec rejected impeachment, said allegations not proven. Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings 14 Dec downgraded Kenya’s credit rating from B+ to B, due to high debt and diminishing foreign currency reserves.
Authorities stepped up mediation role in Ethiopia and DR Congo (DRC) conflicts, while insecurity persisted notably near Somalia border and in Rift Valley.
Opposition faced internal rifts, warned about threats to judicial independence. Former President Kenyatta’s Jubilee party 10 Nov threatened to withdraw from Azimio coalition after Azimio leadership in Senate removed Jubilee candidate from list of nominees to Parliamentary Service Commission. Orange Democratic Movement and Wiper Democratic Movement – both Azimio members – 17 Nov secured election of respective leaders’ children as members of Eastern African Legislative Assembly, prompting Jubilee to denounce “dynasty” politics. Meanwhile, court 10 Nov dropped $60m corruption case against Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and nine others, citing lack of evidence; runner-up in Aug presidential election Raila Odinga immediately denounced lack of judicial independence.
Nairobi played key role in regional efforts to advance peace. Govt from 12 Nov deployed troops to eastern DRC as part of East African Community (EAC) force. After touring region 4-15 Nov in effort to de-escalate tensions between Rwanda and DRC, EAC peace process facilitator for DRC, former President Kenyatta, 18 Nov reported agreement with Rwandan President Kagame “to urge the M23 to cease fire and withdraw from captured territory” in North Kivu, paving way for broader regional call on 23 Nov (see DR Congo). Nairobi 28 Nov also hosted third round of EAC talks between Congolese govt and some armed groups active in country’s eastern provinces. After Kenyatta played key role in mediating 2 Nov peace deal between Addis Ababa and Tigray, Nairobi 7-12 Nov hosted follow-up talks between parties (see Ethiopia).
Al-Shabaab remained active, govt continued operations against cattle rustling. Police 1 Nov reported suspected Al-Shabaab elements kidnapped four, including paramedics, in ambush on ambulance in Mandera county near Somalia border. In Rift Valley, interior ministry 8 Nov said police recovered over 700 livestock and shot one suspect dead in operation targeting cattle rustling in Turkana county; Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki 9, 18 and 23 Nov met regional leaders in Baringo, West Pokot and Samburu counties to discuss insecurity.
President Ruto’s cabinet sworn in despite concerns over nominees’ integrity, while Al-Shabaab violence persisted near border with Somalia.
Controversy arose over cabinet nominees. After Ruto late Sept unveiled cabinet, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji 12 Oct dropped charges – including murder, fraud and graft – faced by several nominees; Law Society of Kenya next day condemned Haji’s decision, alleging judiciary was compromised to allow nomination. Parliament 26 Oct unanimously approved cabinet, which was sworn in 27 Oct. Presidential runner-up Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja coalition 22 Oct announced it would soon unveil shadow cabinet. Meanwhile, Ruto 14 Oct appointed Mohamed Amin as head of Directorate of Criminal Investigations following resignation of George Kinoti, who led investigations perceived as targeting Ruto and his allies. Ruto 16 Oct said he had disbanded elite police unit, Special Service Unit, accused of extrajudicial killings; rights group Amnesty International Kenya 16 Oct welcomed move. Director of public prosecutions 28 Oct announced 12 police officers would be charged for crimes against humanity over 2017 crackdown on post-election protest.
Ruto undertook efforts toward regional economic integration. Ruto 6 Oct met Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss bilateral cooperation, including electricity import deal from the Ethiopian Electricity Corporation. Ruto 9 Oct visited Uganda as part of regional tour, called for free trade within East African Community.
Al-Shabaab attacks persisted in east near Somalia’s border. In Lamu county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 8 Oct attacked pub in Mswakini village, making no casualties; leaflets warning of imminent Al-Shabaab attacks early Oct circulated in Mokowe, Mpeketoni and Hindi towns; in response, police increased security around town centres, roads and key infrastructure. In Mandera county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 12 Oct reportedly attacked school and communication mast in Libehiya town, with local authorities refuting claims that three teachers went missing; 22 Oct raided two mosques in Elram village, making no casualties.
William Ruto was sworn in as president after Supreme Court rejected challenges to election results, bringing peaceful electoral cycle to a close.Highest court upheld Ruto’s presidential win. Supreme Court 5 Sept unanimously confirmed Ruto’s victory in Aug presidential elections, rejecting petitions by presidential runner-up Raila Odinga and others seeking to nullify results. Odinga immediately said he would respect ruling despite disagreeing with it, while outgoing President Kenyatta, who backed Odinga during presidential race, same day promised smooth transition of power. Tensions however persisted. Police 26 Sept used teargas to disperse Odinga’s supporters in capital Nairobi who protested suspension of electoral commission’s Deputy chief executive officer Ruth Kulundu for allegedly helping four commissioners who disputed presidential election outcome; high court 30 Sept reinstated Kulundu.Ruto sworn in as president in peaceful transition of power. Newly-elected National Assembly and Senate 8 Sept held inaugural sessions, with Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition winning speaker positions in both chambers. Ruto sworn in as president 13 Sept during ceremony held in Nairobi. In spirit of smooth democratic transition, Ruto in inaugural address announced appointing Kenyatta as peace envoy for Great Lakes and Horn of Africa, signalling continuity in foreign policy agenda. Faced with economic crisis, Ruto 13 Sept said he would not renew temporary food subsidy on maize flour, and next day partially ended fuel subsidy, causing prices to skyrocket. Ruto during first days in office however implemented fertiliser subsidy effective 19 Sept and launched $500mn fund to support small businesses. Ruto 27 Sept unveiled 22-member cabinet including seven women, failing to fulfil campaign pledge of giving women 50% of cabinet positions.Cattle-raiding violence persisted in north. In Marsabit county, police 15 Sept thwarted cattle raid, retrieving 600 cows. Alleged Pokot cattle rustlers 24 Sept killed 11 people, including eight police officers, near Kakiteitei village, Turkana county.
Deputy President William Ruto declared president-elect as runner-up Raila Odinga submitted challenge to court. Kenyans 9 Aug voted in mostly peaceful general elections. Police however reported ten incidents on election day. Most notably, Kimilili MP shot and killed aide of rival candidate at polling station in Bungoma county, and unidentified assailants attacked police vehicle carrying election material in Wajir county, leaving two injured. Gunmen also held several people hostage in tallying centre in Wajir, injuring one. Electoral commission agent, who went missing 11 Aug, found dead 15 Aug just outside capital Nairobi. Election was marked by unusually low voter turnout at 65%; election observation missions, including from East African Community, in following days lauded polls as largely free and fair. Electoral commission 15 Aug declared Deputy President and leader of United Democratic Alliance William Ruto president-elect with 50.49% of votes, ahead of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga with 48.85%. Four of seven electoral commissioners, including Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, same day disowned results alleging “opaque” tallying process, while some protests erupted in Odinga strongholds, notably Kisumu city and Nairobi’s Kibera neighbourhood, with angry supporters throwing stones and blocking roads. Odinga 16 Aug rejected result and announced he would pursue “all legal options” to challenge it; 22 Aug filed petition at Supreme Court, and in following days said he will respect court’s ruling, expected by 5 Sept. Elections in eight electoral areas, including gubernatorial races in Mombasa and Kakamega, held 29 Aug after being suspended due to ballot mix-ups on 9 Aug. Meanwhile, police 1 Aug killed four armed robbers in Lokwar village, Turkana county, after they allegedly attacked village in attempt to steal cattle. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 4 Aug reportedly injured five police officers at Bamba Ola area in Mandera county. Al-Shabaab 27 Aug issued threat against Kenya saying it would continue attacks until Kenyan troops leave Somalia.
Tensions between rival camps continued to run high ahead of 9 August general elections; Al-Shabaab activity persisted along border with Somalia. Youths 2 July stoned convoy of Siaya county gubernatorial candidate, Nicholas Gumbo, on its way to political rally in Bondo town. Clashes between police and demonstrators accusing electoral commission officers of bias 20 July injured six police officers in Kiisi county. Frontrunners in presidential election, veteran politician Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto, in July traded accusations claiming bias of electoral commission in favour of the other. Odinga 26 July boycotted presidential debate saying Ruto “has no regard for ethics, public morals”. Meanwhile, all four presidential candidates 9 July signed charter committing themselves, parties and supporters to uphold peaceful elections. Hundreds 7 July demonstrated in capital Nairobi against increasing cost of living, saying basic commodity prices have doubled in recent weeks; protesters accused political leaders of letting citizens down and threatened to boycott elections. Similar protests reported early July in Kisumu and Muranga counties. Authorities 6 July extended curfew in parts of Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet and West Pokot counties until 7 Aug in effort to tackle banditry and intercommunal violence. Meanwhile in Samburu county, suspected ethnic Pokot gunmen 11 July attacked Samburu pastoralists; one dead and two wounded. Al-Shabaab activity persisted along border with Somalia. Military 1 July announced killing ten suspected Al-Shabaab militants during security operation in Sarira and Kolbio areas of Boni forest in Lamu county. Explosive device allegedly planted by Al-Shabaab 14 July injured three people in Wargadud area of Mandera county. Presumed Al-Shabaab militants 25 July reportedly attacked security camp in Kutulo area, Mandera, injuring three police officers. In sign of improving relations, President Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamud 15 July signed 11-point agreement including resumption of khat stimulant trade and of Kenyan national carrier Kenya Airways flights to Somalia.
Amid ongoing political tensions, electoral commission cleared main presidential candidates ahead of August vote, and authorities took new steps to tackle insecurity in several regions. Electoral commission 6 June cleared Deputy President William Ruto, veteran politician Raila Odinga and two other candidates to run for president in election set for 9 August. As recent polls put Odinga slightly ahead in presidential race, Ruto 2 June withdrew from presidential debate planned for July, citing media bias, and 12 June announced he would retire from politics if defeated in election. Political mobilisation again turned violent. Police and youth 19 June clashed during Ruto’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) rally in capital Nairobi, leaving at least two injured. Police 23 June fired teargas to break up clashes between rival factions at Odinga’s rally in Marsabit county. Electoral commission 8 June announced it would remove 1.18mn names (out of 22.5mn) from electoral lists after audit found anomalies in voters’ database. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 1 and 5 June attacked security forces in Garissa county, injuring at least five officers; around 20 June destroyed communications equipment in Mandera county, prompting authorities to beef up security in area. Amid tensions in Marsabit county between rival pastoral communities over resources and land, compounded by prolonged drought, authorities 6 June said security forces have recovered over 200 guns and 3,000 bullets in county since disarmament operation began in May; curfew in Marsabit extended through 30 June. Violence persisted along border between Wajir and Isiolo counties; notably, cattle raiders 18 June reportedly killed four in Merti sub-county, Isiolo. Govt early June imposed 30-day curfew in parts of Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo and West Pokot counties in west in effort to tackle banditry and intercommunal violence. President Kenyatta 9 June attended Somali President Mohamud’s inauguration in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu; counterparts next day reached preliminary agreement to lift Somalia’s ban on khat imports from Kenya.
Top presidential candidates picked running mates and authorities declared 30-day curfew in volatile Marsabit and Isiolo counties. Deputy President William Ruto 15 May chose MP Rigathi Gachagua as running mate for August presidential election, while Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga next day picked former Justice Minister Martha Karua, first woman candidate on major presidential ticket; Gachagua and Karua are both ethnic Kikuyus and are hoped to bring votes from populous Mount Kenya region. Latest Trends and Insights for Africa opinion poll released 18 May placed Odinga-Karua ticket ahead with 39% of votes compared to Ruto-Gachagua’s 35%; 14% of sample remained undecided. Campaign officially launched 29 May. Amid communal tensions over resources and land, compounded by prolonged drought, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i 2 May announced 30-day curfew in parts of Marsabit and Isiolo counties and deployment of security forces to crack down on illegal firearms; said security operation will also target rebel group Oromo Liberation Front militants, who reportedly uses Marsabit county as rear base for operations in neighbouring Ethiopia, and alleged criminals hiding in mines in Kom area of Isiolo county. Police 25 May reportedly recovered firearms and ammunition and arrested nine suspected members of “militia group” in Kom area; next day reportedly arrested four individuals and recovered weapons in Harondel and Bubisa areas in Marsabit county. In Turkana county (north west), suspected bandits 1 May attacked minibus in Kainuk town, injuring nine.
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.
Al-Shabaab attacks continued near Somalia border, intercommunal violence persisted in several areas; preparations for Aug general elections moved forward despite tensions. In coastal Lamu county, military around 9 and 20 March killed at least three suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Boni forest, and Al-Shabaab 11 March killed at least five people in attack on construction site in Majengo area. Explosive device 13 March also targeted construction workers in Banisa area, Mandera county (north east), injuring two. Intercommunal violence linked to cattle raiding, land and pasture access but also local political competition left several dead across country. Notably, in Isiolo county, clashes between members of Degodia community from Wajir county and members of Borana community from Isiolo county early March reportedly killed at least five in Degogicha area. In Rift Valley, suspected Pokot militia 5 March reportedly killed at least four people in attacks on several villages in Baringo county; cattle rustlers 20 March reportedly killed two and injured seven in attack in Koitilial village in Elgeyo-Marakwet county. As part of sustained effort to counter hate speech ahead of 9 Aug general elections, National Cohesion and Integration Commission 11 March summoned presidential hopeful Raila Odinga for using divisive language at campaign rally in Wajir county earlier in month. Political parties’ nomination of candidates for legislative and governorship elections sparked tensions. Notably, brawl 7 March broke out between ruling Jubilee Party members in Nakuru county, and clashes next day erupted between supporters of two candidates seeking Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement ticket for governorship elections in Mombasa county. Supreme Court 31 March blocked constitutional changes proposed by President Kenyatta, declaring process unconstitutional; initiative would have strengthened executive powers in move opponents said sought to cement Kenyatta’s ability to shape country’s political future ahead of elections.
Violence continued near Somali border and govt launched security operation amid spate of deadly attacks in Rift Valley; preparations for August elections continued. Suspected Al-Shabaab attacks 2-19 Feb killed at least ten people in country’s east near Somali border: explosive devices 2 and 10 Feb killed eight in Wajir and Garissa counties; attacks on military convoys in Lamu and Garissa counties 12 Feb left at least two dead. Army 26 Feb reportedly killed four alleged Al-Shabaab militants in Boni forest, Lamu county. Kenya and Ethiopia 15 Feb signed agreement to start joint counter-terrorism operation along shared border within a month. Amid spate of deadly attacks in Rift Valley province, govt 6 Feb launched security operation in West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties of Rift Valley; 18 Feb blamed violence on ethnic Pokot militia and announced plans to outlaw group. Violence continued, however, notably in Elgeyo Marakwet county: suspected ethnic Pokot militia 17 Feb reportedly attacked school bus convoy on Arror-Mogil road, killing driver and injuring 15; 20 Feb reportedly killed man in Kipyebo area; intercommunal clashes 26 Feb reportedly killed eight in Chesetan area. Ahead of presidential elections in Aug, electoral commission registered around one mn additional voters in extended registration drive ending 6 Feb, falling short of 4.5mn target. TIFA opinion poll, which surveyed 1,541 people, 17 Feb placed Deputy President William Ruto in front with 38.7%, and opposition leader Raila Odinga at 27%. President Kenyatta 23 Feb officially endorsed Odinga as presidential candidate. Ruling Jubilee Party 26 Feb formally removed Ruto as deputy party leader and announced it would join Odinga’s coalition.
Amid longstanding intercommunal tensions, spate of deadly attacks in Lamu county signalled risks of escalating violence in area in lead-up to August polls. Unidentified assailants 1-9 Jan killed at least 14 people in Lamu county (south east near Somalia border), including six in Widho village near Mpeketoni town 2-3 Jan. Govt blamed al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab for violence, but locals said killings related to hostility between Kikuyu and Swahili communities, with political race for governor seat in Lamu reportedly worsening longstanding intercommunal tensions over land. Suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen 26 Jan ambushed and injured five court officials in Lango la Simba area, also in Lamu. In neighbouring Garissa county, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 10 Jan ambushed and killed four police officers on Liboi-Kulan axis; police 17 Jan killed 15 suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Boni forest. Minibus 31 Jan ran over explosive device in Mandera county (north east near Somalia border), leaving at least 13 dead; police blamed Al-Shabaab. French embassy in Nairobi 27 Jan warned of risk of impending terrorist attack targeting foreigners in capital; police subsequently scaled up security. After Meru county Senator Mithika Linturi 8 Jan called to “remove” opponents of presidential hopeful Deputy President William Ruto during rally in Eldoret town, Rift Valley region, authorities next day detained him arguing divisive rhetoric could ignite electoral violence. In boon for President Kenyatta and his preferred successor, Orange Democratic Movement’s Raila Odinga, National Assembly 5 Jan and Senate 26 Jan passed controversial bill changing way political parties can field candidates; bill’s opponents, notably Ruto, argue bill will allow Odinga, who is currently struggling to form coalition, to push for one close to polls. Electoral commission 17 Jan started second voter registration drive, after first round in Oct-Nov registered 1.5mn new voters, far from 6mn target.
Intercommunal violence continued in north, Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks, and tensions ran high in lead-up to Aug elections. Northern counties recorded persistent intercommunal violence, fuelled partly by drought that has forced herder communities to move in search for water and pasture. Suspected ethnic Gabra gunmen overnight 18-19 Dec stormed ethnic Borana villages in Marsabit, stealing over 1,000 livestock; fighting left 12 killed. Conflict between Degodia and Borana communities over water and pasture 24 Dec reportedly left four dead in Basuke area along Marsabit-Wajir border. In neighbouring Isiolo county, suspected cattle raiders from Degodia clan 22 Dec killed two ethnic Borana herders in Mado Salesa area. Somali-based al-Qaeda-linked group Al-Shabaab stepped up attacks ahead of Christian holiday season. In Mandera county (north east), Al-Shabaab 4 Dec attacked police vehicle in Bambo area, killing two officers and injuring at least another ten; three militants killed 11 Dec in Damasa area when bomb they were setting up exploded; and Al-Shabaab militants 14 Dec injured two police reservists in ambush in Lanqura area. In neighbouring Wajir county, police reservists 13 Dec foiled suspected Al-Shabaab attack on mosque in Wajir town. Suspected Al-Shabaab militant 7 Dec also detonated explosive device, killing himself and two others in Kamloma village, Kisumu county in west, far from border with Somalia. Meanwhile, Orange Democratic Movement leader and President Kenyatta’s preferred candidate Raila Odinga 10 Dec officially launched fifth bid for presidency ahead of Aug elections. Deputy President and presidential hopeful William Ruto 22 Dec branded Odinga as “state project”, also accused govt in recent weeks of using state infrastructure to support Odinga’s bid. Lawmakers 29 Dec brawled in parliament over proposed changes to law governing conduct of political parties and coalition formations.
Amid major drought, cattle rustling and competition over water and pasture fuelled communal tensions in north; security forces on high alert over regional insecurity. Violence killed dozens in Samburu and Marsabit counties (north). Notably, clashes between cattle raiders and herders overnight 3-4 Nov left at least 14 killed in Suiyan area, Samburu. In Marsabit, tensions ran high between Gabbra and Borana communities after suspected bandits 4 Nov killed at least six people along Marsabit-Badasa road, and unidentified gunmen 8 Nov assassinated former intelligence officer in Kiwanja Ndege village. In Laikipia county (centre), amid series of recent clashes between herders and armed bandits from neighbouring counties on one hand, and local farmers on the other, suspected bandits 10 Nov killed four security officers in two separate ambushes in Kamwenje area. In Elgeyo-Marakwet county (west), dozens of cattle raiders 27 Nov attacked herders in Tot town in Kerio Valley, killing four and stealing hundreds of livestock. Directorate of Criminal Investigations 15 Nov announced escape of three terrorism convicts from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison in capital Nairobi. Commissioner-General of Kenyan Prisons Wycliffe Ogallo sacked and arrested 17 Nov; police reservists next day rearrested all escapees in Kitui county east of Nairobi. In response to rising regional insecurity, including spate of jihadist attacks in neighbouring Uganda (see Uganda), President Kenyatta mid-Nov placed security forces on high alert; security subsequently beefed up across country and along borders. Despite one-week extension of month-long voter registration drive ahead of 2022 general elections, electoral commission by 5 Nov registered only 1.5mn new voters, far from 6mn target. Opinion poll by research company Trends and Insights for Africa 19 Nov showed Deputy President Ruto still leading presidential race with 38% voting intentions despite increasing support for Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga at 23%.
Govt rejected International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgement on maritime border dispute with Somalia, and political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general elections. Ahead of ICJ ruling on stretch of Indian Ocean disputed with Somalia, Nairobi 8 Oct rejected court’s jurisdiction saying judgement would be “culmination of a flawed judicial process”. ICJ 12 Oct delivered judgement splitting disputed territory between Kenya and Somalia and de facto attributing several Nairobi-claimed offshore oil blocks to Mogadishu; President Kenyatta same day rejected ruling, accusing court of “persistent procedural unfairness” and “denial of the right to a fair hearing”. Ruling could further strain relations between Kenya and Somalia. Meanwhile, competition continued between frontrunners for 2022 presidential election, Deputy President William Ruto from ruling Jubilee party and opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga. Mount Kenya region (centre) emerged as main playing field with support for Odinga increasing across region, where ODM traditionally fares poorly. Meanwhile in Busia town (west), Ruto’s opponents 23 Oct barricaded roads to block his motorcade; riot police dispersed protests and arrested eight. Electoral commission 25 Oct said only 760,000 new voters registered one week before registration ends, far from final target of 6 mn. Army vehicle 12 Oct struck explosive device in Lamu county near border with Somalia, leaving at least six soldiers injured; al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab group same day claimed attack, said 14 soldiers killed. Internationally, Kenyatta 14 Oct met U.S. President Biden in U.S. capital Washington to discuss situation in Somalia and Ethiopia in light of Kenya’s Oct presidency of UN Security Council. Kenyatta 20 Oct lifted COVID-19-related curfew, which had been in place since March 2020.
Violence flared up in centre, while political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general elections. Herder-farmer clashes early Sept left at least ten dead in Laikipia county; police 6 Sept launched operation in area, 8 Sept arrested four gunmen and two MPs over allegation of inciting violence. Police 13 Sept said violence had subsided; however, herders and farmers continued to clash notably in Rumuruti town 15 Sept. Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i 14 Sept said authorities would grant amnesty to civilians laying down their weapons before month’s end. In Marsabit county (north), violent incidents related to banditry, inter-clan feuding and political intrigues continued, leaving two dead in Loiyangalani area 26 Sept. Meanwhile, One Kenya Alliance (OKA), coalition formed in March by President Kenyatta with four opposition parties, 22 Sept said it would announce its presidential candidate for 2022 general elections in Oct. Following court rulings in May and Aug that controversial attempt by Kenyatta and his de facto ally, opposition leader Raila Odinga, to amend constitution was illegal, Deputy President William Ruto 17 Sept accused MPs aligned with Kenyatta and Odinga of attempting to push through new constitutional amendments. Authorities 14 Sept said they would next day end fuel subsidies to ease economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, prompting gasoline price to jump to highest level in a decade; many Kenyans in following days criticised decision on social media, discussed whether they should take to streets. Energy Minister Charles Keter and Petroleum and Mining Minister John Munyes 21 Sept failed to answer summons by Senate’s Energy Committee over price hike, drawing condemnation committee members who proposed to take up matter to Senate plenary.
Political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general election, and diplomatic engagement with Somalia deepened further. Tensions between Deputy President William Ruto and President Kenyatta persisted ahead of general elections. Notably, Kenyatta 23 Aug asked Ruto to do “the honourable thing” and resign, accusing him of claiming credit for govt action and at the same time criticising it; Ruto next day dismissed call. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kenyatta’s de facto ally, 27 Aug reiterated call on Ruto to be “principled” and resign. Earlier in month, immigration officers 2 Aug prevented Ruto from travelling to Uganda, which he said was attempt by ruling Jubilee Party and govt to humiliate him; interior ministry 5 Aug denied any involvement. Amid infighting, One Kenya Alliance (OKA), formed by Kenyatta in March with four opposition parties, 17 Aug failed to agree on common presidential candidate for 2022 election and ruled out solely supporting Odinga. Court of Appeal 20 Aug upheld High Court’s ruling in May that attempt by Kenyatta and Odinga to amend constitution was illegal. In Mombasa county in south, police 11 Aug detained three individuals on suspicion of being members of terrorist group with networks in Uganda, Kenya, Somalia and Egypt. Following months-long tensions, Kenya and Somalia 8 Aug agreed to strengthen trade, security and diplomatic ties and 10 Aug to “reset relations”.
Intercommunal violence flared up in north and by-election loss dealt new blow to President Kenyatta ahead of 2022 general elections. Competition ahead of 2022 governorship poll fuelled intercommunal violence in Marsabit county in north; notably, clashes between ethnic Gabra and ethnic Borana 12-18 July left five dead. National Cohesion and Integration Commission 12 July called for “ceasefire”, said it would convene peace dialogue to ease tensions between communities, while Kenyatta 15 July called on local leaders to use their influence to foster peace and reconciliation. In new blow to Kenyatta ahead of 2022 elections, ruling Jubilee Party 15 July lost parliamentary by-election in Kenyatta’s home county of Kiambu to candidate aligned with Deputy President William Ruto, who has long been locked in power struggle with Kenyatta. Electoral commission 23 July concluded interviews for four commissioner positions left vacant since 2018.
President Kenyatta adopted confrontational stance toward judiciary, govt took steps to mend relations with Somalia, and Al-Shabaab launched further attacks in north east. Following High Court’s ruling in May that controversial attempt by Kenyatta and his de facto ally, opposition leader Raila Odinga, to amend constitution was illegal, Kenyatta 1 June accused judiciary of “testing constitutional limits” and attempting “to stop the will of the people”; govt next day formally appealed High Court’s ruling. Kenyatta 3 June refused to confirm appointment to various courts of six of 40 judges who had been awaiting his green light since 2019 to take up new positions. Ahead of 2022 general elections, four ruling Jubilee Party MPs 23 June declared support to Deputy President William Ruto; Ruto, himself a Jubilee member, has long been locked in power struggle with Kenyatta. Somalia 4 June accused Kenyan forces of killing civilians in two “indiscriminate airstrikes” in Somalia’s Gedo region, Jubaland state previous day. Govt 10 June lifted ban it had imposed in May on flights to and from Somalia, saying it hoped “goodwill measure” would lead to “full normalisation of bilateral relations”; Somalia 12 June offered to resume full diplomatic relations, which Nairobi 14 June accepted. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab-related violence continued in north east; notably, police 5 June killed at least three suspected Al-Shabaab combatants in Boni forest and suspected militants 7-23 killed at least six people in Mandera county.
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.
Political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general elections. Deputy President William Ruto, locked in power struggle with President Kenyatta, late March-early April reportedly met at least 23 governors in bid to garner support for his 2022 presidential run; mid-April reportedly met some 48 MPs from 11 counties in Mount Kenya area, Rift Valley province and Nairobi, who laid out conditions for supporting him. In rare public comment on his relationship with Kenyatta, Ruto 15 April said he had been subjected to “humiliation” while working as deputy president. Meanwhile, Kenyatta continued to strengthen coalition One Kenya Alliance (OKA) formed late March with four opposition parties, casting doubt on Kenyatta’s support for presidential bid of opposition leader and de facto ally Raila Odinga; OKA members 20 April agreed to take steps to widen coalition. Amid concerns electoral commission may not be ready in time for 2022 election, Kenyatta 14 April declared available four commissioner posts left vacant since 2018; 26 April appointed seven-member panel in charge of selecting commissioners. High Court 8 April suspended for 30 days govt’s late March order to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, host to over 400,000 refugees mostly from South Sudan and Somalia, within four months; govt 29 April announced it would shut down both camps by June 2022; govt and UN refugee agency to form joint team to finalise and implement roadmap toward camps’ closure. Khartoum 22 April accused Kenya of “sinister campaigns aimed at derailing political process in Somalia” by allegedly trying to influence outcome of same day AU Peace and Security Council meeting on Somalia’s political crisis (see Somalia).
Political jockeying continued ahead of 2022 general election, while Al-Shabaab staged further attacks in east and north east. Amid power struggle between President Kenyatta and his de facto ally, nominal opposition leader Raila Odinga, on one hand, and Deputy President Ruto on the other, ruling Jubilee Party’s National Management Committee 15 March voted to remove Ruto as party deputy leader; Kenyatta 22 March blocked Ruto’s ouster. Ruto 25 March said he was prepared, if tensions persist, to leave Jubilee Party for its coalition partner United Democratic Alliance. Suspected Al-Shabaab IEDs killed one civilian in Lamu county in east 23 March and four others in Mandera county in north east next day. U.S. aviation authority 2 March warned civilian airlines flying in Kenyan airspace of possible Al-Shabaab attacks, said group possesses weapons that can hit low-flying aircrafts; Police 30 March warned Al-Shabaab militant – believed to be currently in Somalia – who trained as pilot in Philippines, sought to carry out attack in Kenya. Govt 24 March gave UN refugee agency two-week ultimatum to present plan for closure of Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps – host to some 410,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan and Somalia – within four months, reportedly over national security concerns. Kenya 11 March pulled out of upcoming International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing on Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute, citing ICJ’s “bias” and refusal to delay hearing as requested by Nairobi in Feb; hearings started without Kenya 15 March.
Al-Shabaab continued to stage attacks in north east, and power struggle between President Kenyatta and VP Ruto persisted. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 8 Feb raided Jabibar village, killing one police reservist and one civilian. In neighbouring Wajir county, Al-Shabaab militants 15 Feb attacked police camp in Khrof Arar area, no casualties reported. Amid power struggle between Kenyatta and Ruto, ruling Jubilee Party 8 Feb expelled six senators allied to party leader Ruto for “disciplinary violations”; Political Parties Dispute Tribunal next day suspended senators’ expulsions until appeal hearing, denounced unfair trial by Jubilee Party’s disciplinary committee. Jubilee Party 9 Feb replaced senate majority whip Irungu Kang’ata. Kenyatta 12 Feb called on dissatisfied govt officials to resign, falling short of naming Ruto; 17 Feb replaced eight pro-Ruto senior govt officials. Kenyatta and de facto ally, opposition leader Raila Odinga, continued to inch toward constitutional reform, which Ruto has so far opposed; more than 24 out of 47 county assemblies 23 Feb had voted in favour of draft bill, surpassing required threshold to submit bill to parliament for approval. At border with Somalia, Somali soldiers 1 Feb shot and killed one Kenyan security personnel and injured two others. International Court of Justice 12 Feb rejected Nairobi’s request to postpone March hearing on Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute.
Intercommunal violence flared across country leaving at least two dozen dead; tensions with Somalia remained high. In border area between Turkana and Baringo counties in west, intercommunal clashes and security operations aimed at quellingviolence 11-31 Jan left at least ten dead, including at least four police officers in Kapedo town. In border areas between Isiolo, Garissa and Wajir counties in east, intercommunal clashes early to mid-Jan left at least eight dead. Intercommunal violence mid to late-Jan left four dead in Marsabit county in north, and 18-19 Jan reportedly left at least two dead in Tana River county in south east. In Mandera county in north east, police 11 Jan repelled Al-Shabaab attack on bus in Burashum area; Al-Shabaab militants same day abducted three public servants on Banisa-Takaba road, released them several days later; clashes between Al-Shabaab militants and security forces 15 Jan left civilian dead in Banisa sub-county; security forces 23 Jan killed at least one Al-Shabaab militant near Ashabito town; suspected Al-Shabaab roadside bombing 27 Jan killed at least one security officer along Omarjillo-Arabia road. In neighbouring Wajir county, Al-Shabaab militants 12 Jan robbed bus driver and passengers in Tarbaj sub-county. Electoral commission 26 Jan submitted for approval draft constitutional reform bill to county assemblies after confirming President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga’s signature campaign to trigger referendum on constitutional reform had secured required 1mn signatures. Kenya 1 Jan began two-year term as non-permanent member of UN Security Council. After Somalia in Dec accused Kenya of hosting and arming Somali militia to launch cross-border attacks, and cut diplomatic relations with Nairobi, deadly fighting night of 24-25 Jan broke out between Somali federal forces and Somalia’s Jubaland state forces in Bula Hawa town, Gedo region, near Kenya’s Mandera county; Mogadishu 25 Jan accused “illegal militias armed by the government of Kenya” of launching attack on Bula Hawa; Nairobi same day denied involvement.
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.
President Kenyatta launched signature campaign to trigger referendum on constitutional reform, tensions rose with Somalia and Al-Shabaab attacks continued in north east. Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga 2 Nov unveiled roadmap for referendum on constitutional reform, at centre of power struggle with VP William Ruto, scheduling it for June 2021; 25 Nov launched signature drive to trigger referendum process. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 13 Nov reportedly killed security officer near Mandera town; roadside bomb 30 Nov left at least five police officers injured on Jabibar-Rhamu road. Somalia 29 Nov expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own, accusing Nairobi of interfering in its upcoming elections by “placing great political pressure on the regional president of Jubaland” (see Somalia); Kenya next day denied allegations. In Turkana county in north west, attack by suspected ethnic Pokot gunmen 19 Nov left one dead and three others missing in Kapedo village. In Elgeyo-Marakwet county in west, suspected ethnic Pokot militia 6 Nov killed two herders in Kipchumwa locality. In Meru county in centre, assailants reportedly from Turkana county 12 Nov shot and killed herder and next day shot and injured at least nine police officers as well as one civilian in Makinya locality. Kenyatta 16 Nov received Ethiopian FM Demeke Mekonnen in capital Nairobi, called for de-escalation of conflict that erupted in Ethiopia (see Ethiopia). In Marsabit county near Ethiopian border in north, Ethiopian security forces 23 Nov clashed with Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebels in Moyale town, toll unknown; Ethiopian security forces next day detained at least nine Kenyans for allegedly sheltering OLA rebels.
Deadly violence erupted amid power struggle between President Kenyatta and VP Ruto and increasing political polarisation; meanwhile Al-Shabaab attacks persisted in north east. After Ruto 1 Oct hosted allied MPs at ruling Jubilee Party (JP) headquarters in capital Nairobi during Kenyatta’s travel abroad, JP Sec Gen Raphael Tuju next day threatened to remove Ruto as party deputy leader. Opposition leader and Kenyatta ally Raila Odinga and Ruto’s campaigns respectively for and against referendum on constitutional reform continued to heighten polarisation between their supporters; ahead of Ruto’s visit to Kenol town, Murang’a county in centre, pro-Ruto youths 4 Oct clashed with Kenyatta and Odinga supporters, leaving two dead and several injured. Police 8 Oct used tear gas to stop fundraising event that Ruto intended to attend in Nyamira county on grounds that authorities had not been notified nor given green light; in following days, police outlawed or blocked several other rallies organised by Ruto’s camp, citing COVID-19 and security-related concerns. Kenyatta 28 Oct signed into law bill giving body of parliament – largely controlled by allies of Kenyatta and Odinga – four seats in seven-member panel tasked with appointing electoral commissioners. Kenyatta 8 Oct signed into law county revenue allocation bill for 2020-2021 largely benefitting his home county of Kiambu. In Mandera county in north east, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 6 Oct ambushed bus between Elwak and Kotulo towns, leaving at least eight injured; 18 Oct attacked police camp along border with Somalia, no injuries. Inter-clan skirmishes 22-23 Oct left three dead in Lafey-El Wak area, also Mandera county. Nairobi court 7 Oct convicted two men and acquitted another for alleged role in 2013 Al-Shabaab deadly attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall; unidentified gunmen next day abducted acquitted individual.
Political polarisation heightened ahead of 2022 presidential election amid persistent power struggle between President Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, while Al-Shabaab attacks resumed in north east. Cross-country campaigns by opposition leader Raila Odinga and Ruto drumming up support respectively for and against referendum on constitutional reform – proposed by Kenyatta and Odinga – ahead of 2022 presidential election heightened polarisation between their supporters; ahead of Ruto’s visit to Kisii town, skirmishes 10 Sept broke out between pro-Ruto elements and others opposing his visit, police used teargas to disperse both groups. Meanwhile, police arrested MPs Johanna Ng’eno (from ruling coalition member Kenyan African National Union party) and Oscar Sudi (from ruling Jubilee Party, JP) 7 and 13 Sept respectively on charges of hate speech after they accused Kenyatta of sidelining Ruto within JP; Ng’eno and Sudi’s arrests were met with protests from their supporters. In attempt to break stalemate in Senate over revision of formula to determine share of national revenues received by counties, Kenyatta 15 Sept pledged to increase available revenues for counties by some $450mn; 12-member special committee, appointed in Aug, 17 Sept agreed on revised formula ensuring no counties will lose money but also benefiting Kenyatta’s home county of Kiambu; Senate same day adopted formula. In Mandera county in north east, suspected Al-Shabaab militants 2-21 Sept launched attacks leaving two soldiers and five militants dead; 23 Sept abducted three civilians near Lafey town. Intercommunal and herder-farmer violence also erupted in several areas. In Turkana county in north west near border with Ethiopia, unidentified assailants 10 Sept ambushed herders at Nakuwa river, leaving four dead; police later that day killed one assailant. Along border between West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties in west, two clashes between ethnic Pokot and Marakwet same day left six dead in Chepkokou and Kipchumo. In Nakuru county in south west, ethnic clashes in several villages night of 12-13 Sept left at least one dead and 12 injured. In Migori county in south west, two rival factions of Legio Maria faith 14 Sept came to blows, police intervened using live ammunition; violence reportedly left at least eight dead.
Disputed revenue-sharing bill laid bare political fissures while anti-govt protests erupted following corruption allegations. In senate, President Kenyatta failed to push through revision of formula to determine share of national revenues received by counties; proposed revision, which would have benefited his ethnic Kikuyu base, voted against on several occasions by group of 25 senators including allies of Deputy President William Ruto. Ahead of 17 Aug vote, police briefly arrested three senators opposed to revised formula, prompting outcry and sparking small-scale protests 17-18 Aug in Samburu and Kakamega counties; senate speaker refused to call vote and appointed 12-member committee to break stalemate. Media reports mid-Aug alleged misappropriation by govt officials and business leaders of up to $400mn earmarked for COVID-19 response, sparking public outrage; hundreds of anti-corruption protesters gathered 21-25 Aug in capital Nairobi and Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu cities, police used teargas to disperse them and arrested at least a dozen. Kenyatta 26 Aug extended COVID-19-related curfew for another 30 days. In border area between Isiolo and Garissa counties in centre, clashes between ethnic Borana and Somali herders 4 Aug left two dead and four others seriously injured. Police 31 Aug shot dead suspected Al-Shabaab militant in southern Kwale county, amid significant decrease of Al-Shabaab activity, with no deadly attack reported in Aug.
Al-Shabaab continued to launch attacks in east and north east, while intercommunal violence broke out and tensions ran high between police and civilians in several areas. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab militants launched several attacks on police camps, notably in Yumbis village 22 July, where clashes reportedly left one police officer and five insurgents dead. In Wajir county near Somalia border in north east, Al-Shabaab 7 July abducted eight civilians; security forces quickly freed all eight. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab 10 July attacked police post, with no casualties. In Uasin Gishu county in west, security forces next day arrested two suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Chepkatet area. Intercommunal violence killed at least a dozen. Clashes between ethnic Maasai and Kamba 3-5 July left four dead in border area between Makueni and Kajiado counties in south. Angry mob 6 July reportedly hacked to death four suspected cattle rustlers in Mithuthini village, Kirinyaga county in centre. Late July clashes between ethnic Kipsigis and Maasai killed at least five in border area between Narok and Nakuru counties in west. Tensions between police and civilians remained high amid COVID-19 pandemic. In Kisii county in south west, police 5 July shot and killed trader suspected of selling fake hand sanitiser; in response, angry mob set fire to police station and threw rocks at police injuring fourteen officers. In capital Nairobi, hundreds 7 July demonstrated against police brutal enforcement of coronavirus measures; police used teargas to disperse protesters and arrested over 50. In Garissa city, after police 25 July shot and killed two civilians while chasing murder suspect, demonstrators marched on police station and clashed with police leaving several civilians injured. Following moves by President Kenyatta in recent months to seize control of ruling Jubilee Party by removing allies of deputy party leader William Ruto from key parliamentary positions, Ruto early July said purges intended to scuttle his 2022 presidential bid.
President Kenyatta continued to assert control over ruling party, intercommunal violence erupted in north and Al-Shabaab attacks persisted in north east and east. Following April purge of senators aligned to deputy president and deputy party leader, William Ruto, Kenyatta continued to take steps to sideline Ruto within ruling Jubilee Party. Notably, in party meetings that Kenyatta chaired, 18 Ruto-aligned MPs removed from key positions in National Assembly 2 June, and National Assembly majority leader ousted 22 June. Kenya’s 2020-2021 budget presented by Finance Ministry 11 June also revealed cut of over 40% to Ruto’s budget allocation, and Jubilee Party 17 June signed cooperation agreements with Wiper Democratic Movement–Kenya and Chama Cha Mashinani parties to work together ahead of next general elections in further attempt to consolidate position against Ruto. In border area between Marsabit and Wajir counties in north, clashes between ethnic Borana and Degodia early to mid-June reportedly left at least 13 dead. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab raid 14 June left one police reservist and two militants dead in Warankara village. Security forces late June arrested two Al-Shabaab militants near border with Somalia. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab night of 23-24 June set fire to several shops in Ijara town. Police brutality in context of COVID-19 continued: in capital Nairobi, police 1 June reportedly shot and killed homeless man for violating curfew, some 300 protesters that night took to streets to voice outrage; in western city of Lesos, police 25 June killed three in clashes with protesters denouncing arrest of taxi driver for flouting COVID-19 restrictions. UN General Assembly 18 June elected Kenya as non-permanent member of UN Security Council for two years (2021-2023).
President Kenyatta brutally wrested control of ruling party, triggering exclusion of senators aligned with deputy president and deputy party leader, William Ruto, from key positions; intercommunal violence broke out in west, and Al-Shabaab kept up attacks against security forces in north east and east. Ruling Jubilee Party (JP) sec gen and Kenyatta ally, Raphael Tuju, 2 May confirmed changes to party’s governing body despite objections from allies of deputy party leader Ruto; 4 May formalised coalition agreement JP had signed in 2017 with Kenyan African National Union (KANU) party. Kenyatta 11 May presided over meeting of newly formed coalition attended by pro-Kenyatta senators but without participation of Ruto’s allies, senators present voted to replace pro-Ruto JP leadership in senate; ousted senators next day filed complaint with Constitutional Court to block their replacement. Purges of Ruto-aligned senators from key Senate positions continued until month’s end; notably, Senate deputy speaker was ousted 22 May. In border area between Narok and Nakuru counties in west, clashes between ethnic Kipsigis and Maasai reportedly left eight dead 23-27 May. In Wajir county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 16 May raided Khrof Arar police camp, police reportedly killed three militants. Security forces night of 16-17 May launched airstrikes on Al-Shabaab hideouts along Somalia border, “heavy casualties” reported. In Garissa county in east, police 18 May repelled Al-Shabaab attack on Bura-East-Garissa Lappset road. In capital Nairobi, hundreds protested 4 May after police allegedly beat to death man violating COVID-19 curfew; hundreds 7 and 11 May demonstrated against total lockdown of their predominantly Muslim neighbourhood (Eastleigh) following spike in COVID-19 cases there as residents said measure singled out Muslim community. In Somalia’s southern Bay region, Kenyan-registered aeroplane carrying COVID-19 medical supplies 4 May crashed killing all six passengers including four Kenyans; Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia next day launched joint investigation as media reports emerged that Ethiopian soldiers may have shot aeroplane down. International Court of Justice 22 May postponed hearing on Somalia-Kenya maritime border dispute from 8-12 June to March 2021 following Nairobi’s request for delay on account of COVID-19 pandemic.
Al-Shabaab attacks on security forces persisted in north east, police continued to brutally enforce COVID-19 restrictions and tensions increased in ruling party between factions of President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto. Al-Shabaab remained active: in Wajir county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 13 April attacked police reservists on patrol in Khrof Arar leaving six reservists and four militants dead; in Kilifi and Mombasa counties in south, police 24-25 April killed two suspected Al-Shabaab militants. Tensions between Kenya and Somalia persisted in border areas in north east. Notably, in Mandera town, stray bullets and rocket 22 April struck building amid fighting between Somali federal forces and Somalia’s Jubaland state forces near Somalia’s Bula Hawa town, Gedo region. Police continued to brutally enforce COVID-19 curfew killing at least fourteen across country 27 March-30 April. In capital Nairobi, thousands 10 April attempted to force their way into premises where food was being distributed, stampede left two dead. Govt next day banned uncoordinated food distributions. Govt agency Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) 6 April announced intention of ruling Jubilee Party to replace members of party’s governing body, National Management Committee (NMC). Deputy party leader William Ruto, also deputy president, 10 April called proposed changes to NMC “illegal and fraudulent”, denounced move as attempt by Raphael Tuju, party’s sec gen and ally of Kenyatta, to hijack party’s leadership. ORPP 17 April called halt to process of replacing NMC members after receiving 350 petitions from party members, including 146 from elected officials, and urged Tuju to use internal party dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve issue.
Kenya-Somalia tensions flared early March before leaders took steps to de-escalate, Kenyan security forces continued to battle Al-Shabaab in north and east, and pushback against heavy enforcement of COVID-19 related measures turned deadly. After Mogadishu early Feb accused Kenya of harbouring former security minister of Somalia’s Jubaland state Abdirashid Janan, tensions escalated further 2 March when clashes erupted between Somali federal forces and Janan’s troops in Jubaland’s Bula Hawa town, Gedo region, and spilled over into neighbouring Mandera town in Kenya, reportedly killing at least one civilian. Local Kenyan police arrested a dozen Somali soldiers who had crossed border. President Kenyatta 4 March accused Somalia of violating country’s sovereignty. In 5 March call initiated by Somali President Farmajo, two presidents discussed measures to ease tensions including creation of joint committees to strengthen bilateral relations. Kenyan delegation 8 March visited Mogadishu, same day Farmajo accepted Kenyatta’s invitation to Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia summit in capital Nairobi aimed at defusing tensions; amid fears of COVID-19 outbreak, govt 13 March however postponed summit. In Garissa county in east, security forces 6 and 13 March killed at least eight Al-Shabaab militants. In turn, militants 13-14 March killed police officer between Alinjugur and Hagadera refugee camps; police vehicle also detonated roadside bomb leaving two officers dead in Welmarer area. Suspected Al-Shabaab roadside bombing 15 March left three civilians dead at Qorahindi. In Lamu county in east, armed forces 19 March raided Al-Shabaab camp in Boni forest leaving a dozen militants dead. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab 11 March ambushed several vehicles on Rhamu-Elwak road leaving at least four civilians and unknown number of soldiers dead. In Marsabit county near Ethiopian border in north, gunmen whom locals said were Ethiopian soldiers 12 March crossed into Kenya and killed five civilians in Sessi. Security forces’ heavy-handed enforcement of COVID-19 related curfew left at least three dead and dozens injured in several cities late March. Govt 31 March closed border with Ethiopia to stop spread of virus.
Al-Shabaab continued attacks in north and east, while relations with Somalia soured further. In Mandera county in north east, Al-Shabaab militants 11 Feb killed police reservist; 19 Feb attacked bus leaving four civilians dead prompting govt to order all buses in north east to travel with police escort. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab targeted police: suspected militants 5 Feb shot and killed father of police reservist; 12 and 20 Feb burned down homes belonging to police reservists; 21 Feb abducted businessman; 26 Feb reportedly attacked police station, casualties reported. After former security minister of Somalia’s Jubaland state Abdirashid Janan escaped from prison in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu and reportedly arrived in Jubaland state’s Gedo region via Kenyan capital Nairobi in early Feb, Somalian federal govt forces 4 Feb deployed in Gedo region prompting Janan to flee across border to Kenya’s Mandera town. Somalia 5 Feb accused Kenya of interference for allegedly aiding Janan. Officials of Mandera county 10 Feb called on Janan to leave, citing rising tensions with Somalia. U.S. 10 Feb announced it had agreed with govt to set up Kenyan-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Nairobi.
Al-Shabaab stepped up frequency and scale of attacks in north east and east, and President Kenyatta reshuffled his cabinet. After springing two ambushes in Wajir and Mandera counties in north east 28 and 29 Dec respectively, killing two soldiers in first incident, Al-Shabaab 2 Jan ambushed bus in Lamu county in east, separated Muslims from non-Muslims and killed four of latter. Also in Lamu county, Al-Shabaab 5 Jan launched assault on Simba military base in Manda Bay killing three Americans (one soldier and two contractors) and damaging six aircraft; first Al-Shabaab attack on base housing U.S. forces in Kenya. Hours later, three men attempted to break into UK army base in Nanyuki in central Kenya, all arrested. In Garissa county in east, Al-Shabaab 7 Jan attacked police station killing two policemen and 10 Jan killed three teachers. Court 22 Jan allowed police to detain 43 people, including 38 students, arrested day before in capital Nairobi and suspected to be linked to Al-Shabaab. President Kenyatta 14 Jan announced changes to cabinet, including switching Monica Juma and Raychelle Omamo, cabinet secretaries for foreign affairs and defence respectively.
Al-Shabaab attacks continued. Al-Shabaab militants 6 Dec attacked bus travelling from Wajir to Mandera in north east, killing at least ten including seven police officers. Authorities 6 Dec arrested Nairobi governor Mike Sonko in Voi in south on at least seven charges including abuse of power, money laundering and fraud; Sonko pleaded non-guilty 9 Dec.
Al-Shabaab attacks and banditry persisted in north, and Kenya and Somalia pledged to normalise relations. In Wajir county in north east near Somalia border, Al-Shabaab 30 Oct raided police station in Dadajabula in attempt to free two militants detained there; both detained militants killed in raid. Kenyan military convoy 12 Nov detonated improvised explosive device planted by Al-Shabaab in Wajir county. After months of strained relations between Kenya and Somalia including over maritime border dispute, President Kenyatta and Somali President Farmajo met in capital Nairobi 14 Nov and agreed to normalise relations, including by resuming issuance of travel visas on arrival and lifting of flight restrictions.
Al-Shabaab threat persisted and relations between Kenya and Somalia remained tense. Police 1 Oct killed three and arrested seven Al-Shabaab militants in Mombasa suspected of planning attacks on 20 Oct national holiday celebrations. Suspected Al-Shabaab militants 12 Oct killed eleven police officers near Liboi, Garissa county near Somalia border. Police 26 Oct arrested two suspected Al-Shabaab militants in Liboi. Al-Shabaab 29 Oct launched attack on police station in Dadajabula, Wajir county which left two militants dead. Somalia 7 Oct filed complaint against Kenya at UN aviation agency after Kenyan-chartered aeroplane flew from capital Nairobi to Somali federal member state Jubaland without touching down in Somali capital Mogadishu, violating Somalia federal govt directive; Somalia 10 Oct accused Kenya of violating its sovereignty. International Court of Justice (ICJ) 17 Oct said postponed hearing of maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia would take place June 2020, three months earlier than Kenya requested, and that there would be no further delays.