Thursday, May 16, 2013

Africa: Kenya After the Elections

Kenya after the elections
Source: International Crisis Group

Though the 2013 general elections were relatively peaceful, Kenya is still deeply divided and ethnically polarised.

Kenya After the Elections, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group,examines the 4 March elections that saw Jubilee Coalition’s Uhuru Kenyatta declared president. Despite various shortcomings and allegations of irregularities, Kenyans averted a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election violence. However, the conflict drivers that triggered the 2007 bloodshed, including a culture of impunity, land grievances, corruption, ethnic tensions, weak institutions and regional and socio-economic inequality, have yet to be addressed adequately.

The briefing’s major findings and recommendations are:
  • The government needs to restore confidence in the electoral machinery, which was undermined by technical failures in electronic voting and questions over the transparency of the tallying process.
  • Domestically, implementing devolution presents a crucial test, both in ensuring Kenya’s counties do not become “ethnic fiefdoms” and are inclusive of minority interests, and that they have adequate financial support despite the country’s current fiscal deficit.
  • Internationally, the new government will need to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as the cases against the new president and deputy president for their alleged roles in the 2007 election violence proceed. Failure to do so will strain international relations, to the detriment of Kenya’s economy and its people.
  • Despite the strength of the Jubilee Coalition in the legislatures, the opposition needs to regroup under strong leadership to represent fully the more than five million voters who supported it.
“Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option for a still divided Kenya”, says Cedric Barnes, Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Project Director. “The ICC cases, a disappointed and bitter opposition and the implementation of an untested system of devolved governance remain significant challenges for the new government”.

“The new government has the opportunity to usher in an era of peace and socio-economic development that would benefit all communities and unite the country”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Deputy Director. “The foundation has been laid with the overwhelming support the constitution received in 2010, a base that should be maintained and built upon for a peaceful and prosperous future”.