Kenya’s history with post-election instability.Kenya1992 general electionThe first multi-partyelections held in Kenya were in 1992 which pitted political giants such asDaniel Arap Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenneth Matibaa and Mwai Kibaki. Thefinal results declared Daniel Arap Moi president after garnering 36.6% of totalvotes followed by Kenneth Matiba with 25.
7% of votes. There were widespreadallegations of irregularities caused by ballot stuffing, which was claimed totarget violence within the Rift Valley region. During this period most ofperpetrating the violence were the Kalenjin and Maasai supporters of Kanu againstsupporters of opposition groups. According to Osman (2015), “By 1993about 300,000 people had fled their homes (HRW, June 1997). This was witnessedin the run-up to, during and shortly after the multiparty elections in 1992.”There were even claims that some candidates were being denied to present theirnomination papers. The fact that the then presidentDaniel Arap Moi was still going about his campaigns all over the country withno issues added insult to injury. He was also accused of using state resourcesto fund is campaigns, something that is very illegal.
After the 1982 coupattempt, President Moi had tightened his grip around media turning Voice ofKenya V.O.K to K.B.C Kenya broadcasting corporation a parastatal of thegovernment meaning he had control over media too. “Political analysts contend that theKANU government used violence to intimidate supporters of the then politicalopposition, which posed a challenge to its legitimacy. Others maintained thatviolence was a tool to retain political monopoly in geographical zonesdesignated as ‘exclusive’ to particular ethnic communities and politicalparties” (Osman, 2015) This insecurity made it evendifficult for other candidates to venture in certain regions to do theircampaigns. Kenya1997 general election.
The 1997 was theback to back victory by Daniel Arap Moi who garnered 40.4% of votes casted aheadof Mwai Kibaki who got 30.89% of votes casted. Once again there were claims ofwidespread electoral irregularities and widespread ethnic based violence.
2007 generalelection.Up to 2007 Kenyahad never experienced such widespread post-election violence before. PresidentKibaki had won the election with 46.42% of votes casted followed closely byRaila Odinga with 44.07%.
The international community stated that to someextent, the election results had been manipulated. Accordingto Al Jazeera, number between 800 and 1500 people were killed and180,000-600,000 people displaced. Thefirst case that triggered the violence was in Eldoret when 50 Kikuyu men, womenand children were trapped inside a church where they were holding prayers onNew Year’s Day; the people proceeded to setting the place on fire killingeveryone inside. This triggered a chain of events that included the retaliationof Kikuyus across the country in an attempt to stop the killing of theirpeople. This was the biggest post-election violence that had ever occurred inKenya, it had basically crippled the economy with even foreign countries givinganyone who wants to come to Kenya travel advisories so the tourism sector wasrendered useless. This was also followed by destruction of property worthmillions of shillings.
FormerUnited Nations secretary General, Kofi Annan had to come and mediate betweenthe two leaders Kibaki and Raila. This resulted in power sharing with Kibakibeing president and Raila being the second Prime Minister in Kenyan history,the first prime minister was Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. According to BBC News (2008),the largest single loss of life was when a church providing shelter from theviolence to 200 people was set on fire by rioters, killing 35 people. Thepeople who were sheltering were members of President Kibaki’s tribe, theKikuyu.Kenya2013 General elections.
The 2013 electionwas relatively peaceful after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared president over RailaOdinga, this being his 3rd time loosing at the polls. The supremecourt upheld Uhuru`s victory and Raila conceded defeat, something that helpedmaintain the relative peaceful environment across the country.Kenya2017 general elections.
Coming into the2017 polls, the previous history of Kenya having post-election violence was areason for many people to fear that there will be widespread violence. This, inmy opinion, was due to the fact that Kenya had not really healed from theprevious violence and wrongdoings. Kenyans were basically only accepting thestatus quo after the mediation done in 2007 just so that they can continueliving their regular lives. The tribal issues that were deeplyrooted were not sorted, leaving Kenya as a ticking time bomb. This was evidentleading up to elections; thousands of police forces were dispatched across thecountry.
Well known political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi predicted that the electionresults would be nullified which further increased talks of there being anotherpost-election violence saga. “The solution is for President Uhuru to disobeythe rule of bad law. No progress has ever been made in the world withoutbreaking bad laws…If Maraga rulings degenerate into the rule of bad law, UhuruKenyatta must break them unapologetically,” the political scientist remarked.Analysisof people’s thoughts and views.According to 21 questionnairesthat were handed out and filled at random, these were the findings though theassumption was made that all questions were truthfully answered:1.
Ofthe 22 who were interviewed, 12 stated that they were satisfied with theinitial results while 9 were not and one was undecided.2. Theones who were not satisfied with the initial results stated that there were toomany irregularities during the election and mostly said it was not a fairelection. Irregularities seemed to be their main complaint.3. Notmany of the people did share information about the post-election violence ontheir various social media platforms and the ones who actually did share werekeen to confirm via media outlets if the news was true4.
The2017 post-election violence did affect the thoughts of people on whether theywill vote in the next general election. This was because the questionnaireswere split right down the middle between those who will vote and those who donot see themselves voting in the next election.5.
20out of the 21 that filled the questionnaires claimed that they were affected bythe post-election violence, most being indirectly affected and a few beingdirectly affected. These experiences reinforced most of their politicalideologies and views on the political landscape. This may be due to the factthat they stuck by the political side they supported but to be sure of thatthere would be need for further investigation.6.
14of the 21 who filled in the questionnaire do believe that history is bound torepeat itself and that there will be another round of post-election violence inthe next general election. 5 do not believe there will be any more violencemainly because the political players will be different by then and theremaining 2 are not sure of their thought but choose to be optimistic.7. Whenasked on their opinion on what Kenyans should do moving forward, there was keenemphasis on the fact that Kenyans should rise above their tribal lines and thatthe government should invest in building efficient infrastructures such as an electoralsystem that will not cause drift among KenyansMy analysis of thequestionnaires showed that yes, a lot of people were affected by the violence,but most were indifferent about it in that they didn’t do anything to aid theexisting situation. All this being said, Kenyans do not seem to be toooptimistic about the countries future in regards to the next general electionwith more than half believing that there will be a repeat of the post-electionviolence, this is even after most said that they were satisfied with theinitial august 8th general election results. The working classindividuals who filled in the questionnaires were the ones who stated that theviolence did also affect them financially while those who stated theiroccupation as fulltime students barely mentioned any financial stress, they maybe oblivious to other effects that the post-election violence had on thecountry. This extended to various parts of the country, a lot of people did notpay much mind to the violence since there wasn’t any in their area or immediatevicinity.Whythere should be cause for worry from national and international community.
During the 2007elections, I had gone to visit my relatives living in Ngong, Rift Valley. Andthat side of rift valley was generally peaceful but we were unable to go homefor over a month due to insecurity on the roads. Phone calls with family athome and they were just saying that all they’ve been hearing from the house isgunshots. They said that there were some demonstrations at the beginning butafter that people took advantage of the violence to start looting andvandalizing shops. This in turn caused them to go backand forth with police officers who turned to extra judicial killing of thepeople, with even innocents being caught in the cross fire. Fast forward to2017, 10 years later and we still had so many cases all over of innocent peoplebeing beaten and shot. There were multiple heartbreaking cases of childrenbeing killed by stray bullets, after the first one there was an outpour ofsadness and rage from Kenyans but still it happened again, and again, andagain. Yes independent policing and oversight authority has been carrying out investigationsbut still the number of innocent children and adults being killed in thecrossfire is increasing.
After 2007, we thought that the horror of whathappened would be enough to teach Kenyans a lesson but still in 2017 it ishappening again, 10 years later we are still the same Kenya underneath all ofit. The Kenyan government and anyforeign stakeholder should be worried about this trend because there is nothingsaying that the same will not happen in 2022, 2027 and onwards. There needs tobe a reform that will come from within Kenyans, one that will show us that wehave different tribes but we still cry the same, we still bleed the same. Thegovernment and Kenya as a whole need to understand that just because peoplestop fighting for a few years it means there’s peace, it’s just a ticking timebomb waiting to blow in all our faces.
The spreading of fake news has alsocaused a lot of turmoil; we need to curb these so called “keyboard warriors”who will share false posts on social media from the safety of their houses.Fake news usually triggers a lot of people who will react to it without anyconfirmation of the news they’ve come across. Thereis also something to be said about police brutality, it is difficult todetermine whether it is orders the police get from their superiors to uselethal force, training the police undergo that may make them bitter andheartless towards rowdy individual or that all these incidences may be justthat, isolated incidences that may happen in the heat of the moment. Butanalysis of this will definitely show that police are using unnecessary forceto control the demonstrators. This is because it does not make sense that everytime police clash with the demonstrators there`s always fatalities.Thesedeaths may intimidate the people for a short time, but they will harbornegative feelings towards the authorities plus they may direct the violencetowards the police. This will bring a lot of fatalities on both sides.
Once warbreaks out, no one is on the right.Theexample of the United States can be used here, after their most recentelections, there was widespread speculation about the victory of Donald trumpbut there were no instances of post-election violence. This is because thereare set procedures to follow during such events and the citizens themselveshave bought into these procedures. Kenya may have set procedures, but thecitizens clearly do not believe in the processes hence the people believe theycan take matters into their own hands through use of violence. Kenyans have to transcend abovetribal lines, only then will Kenya realize its true potential as a sleepinggiant in Africa.