Kenya’s history with post-election instability.
1992 general election
The first multi-party
elections held in Kenya were in 1992 which pitted political giants such as
Daniel Arap Moi, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Kenneth Matibaa and Mwai Kibaki. The
final results declared Daniel Arap Moi president after garnering 36.6% of total
votes followed by Kenneth Matiba with 25.7% of votes. There were widespread
allegations of irregularities caused by ballot stuffing, which was claimed to
target violence within the Rift Valley region. During this period most of
perpetrating the violence were the Kalenjin and Maasai supporters of Kanu against
supporters of opposition groups.
According to Osman (2015), “By 1993
about 300,000 people had fled their homes (HRW, June 1997). This was witnessed
in 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 their
The fact that the then president
Daniel Arap Moi was still going about his campaigns all over the country with
no issues added insult to injury. He was also accused of using state resources
to fund is campaigns, something that is very illegal. After the 1982 coup
attempt, President Moi had tightened his grip around media turning Voice of
Kenya V.O.K to K.B.C Kenya broadcasting corporation a parastatal of the
government meaning he had control over media too.
“Political analysts contend that the
KANU government used violence to intimidate supporters of the then political
opposition, which posed a challenge to its legitimacy. Others maintained that
violence was a tool to retain political monopoly in geographical zones
designated as ‘exclusive’ to particular ethnic communities and political
parties” (Osman, 2015)
This insecurity made it even
difficult for other candidates to venture in certain regions to do their
1997 general election.
The 1997 was the
back to back victory by Daniel Arap Moi who garnered 40.4% of votes casted ahead
of Mwai Kibaki who got 30.89% of votes casted. Once again there were claims of
widespread electoral irregularities and widespread ethnic based violence.
Up to 2007 Kenya
had never experienced such widespread post-election violence before. President
Kibaki had won the election with 46.42% of votes casted followed closely by
Raila Odinga with 44.07%. The international community stated that to some
extent, the election results had been manipulated.
to Al Jazeera, number between 800 and 1500 people were killed and
180,000-600,000 people displaced. The
first case that triggered the violence was in Eldoret when 50 Kikuyu men, women
and children were trapped inside a church where they were holding prayers on
New Year’s Day; the people proceeded to setting the place on fire killing
everyone inside. This triggered a chain of events that included the retaliation
of Kikuyus across the country in an attempt to stop the killing of their
people. This was the biggest post-election violence that had ever occurred in
Kenya, it had basically crippled the economy with even foreign countries giving
anyone who wants to come to Kenya travel advisories so the tourism sector was
rendered useless. This was also followed by destruction of property worth
millions of shillings.
United Nations secretary General, Kofi Annan had to come and mediate between
the two leaders Kibaki and Raila. This resulted in power sharing with Kibaki
being 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 the
violence to 200 people was set on fire by rioters, killing 35 people. The
people who were sheltering were members of President Kibaki’s tribe, the
2013 General elections.
The 2013 election
was relatively peaceful after Uhuru Kenyatta was declared president over Raila
Odinga, this being his 3rd time loosing at the polls. The supreme
court upheld Uhuru`s victory and Raila conceded defeat, something that helped
maintain the relative peaceful environment across the country.
2017 general elections.
Coming into the
2017 polls, the previous history of Kenya having post-election violence was a
reason for many people to fear that there will be widespread violence. This, in
my opinion, was due to the fact that Kenya had not really healed from the
previous violence and wrongdoings. Kenyans were basically only accepting the
status quo after the mediation done in 2007 just so that they can continue
living their regular lives.
The tribal issues that were deeply
rooted were not sorted, leaving Kenya as a ticking time bomb. This was evident
leading up to elections; thousands of police forces were dispatched across the
country. Well known political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi predicted that the election
results would be nullified which further increased talks of there being another
post-election violence saga. “The solution is for President Uhuru to disobey
the rule of bad law. No progress has ever been made in the world without
breaking bad laws…If Maraga rulings degenerate into the rule of bad law, Uhuru
Kenyatta must break them unapologetically,” the political scientist remarked.
of people’s thoughts and views.
According to 21 questionnaires
that were handed out and filled at random, these were the findings though the
assumption was made that all questions were truthfully answered:
the 22 who were interviewed, 12 stated that they were satisfied with the
initial results while 9 were not and one was undecided.
ones who were not satisfied with the initial results stated that there were too
many irregularities during the election and mostly said it was not a fair
election. Irregularities seemed to be their main complaint.
many of the people did share information about the post-election violence on
their various social media platforms and the ones who actually did share were
keen to confirm via media outlets if the news was true
2017 post-election violence did affect the thoughts of people on whether they
will vote in the next general election. This was because the questionnaires
were split right down the middle between those who will vote and those who do
not see themselves voting in the next election.
out of the 21 that filled the questionnaires claimed that they were affected by
the post-election violence, most being indirectly affected and a few being
directly affected. These experiences reinforced most of their political
ideologies and views on the political landscape. This may be due to the fact
that they stuck by the political side they supported but to be sure of that
there would be need for further investigation.
of the 21 who filled in the questionnaire do believe that history is bound to
repeat itself and that there will be another round of post-election violence in
the next general election. 5 do not believe there will be any more violence
mainly because the political players will be different by then and the
remaining 2 are not sure of their thought but choose to be optimistic.
asked on their opinion on what Kenyans should do moving forward, there was keen
emphasis on the fact that Kenyans should rise above their tribal lines and that
the government should invest in building efficient infrastructures such as an electoral
system that will not cause drift among Kenyans
My analysis of the
questionnaires 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 the
existing situation. All this being said, Kenyans do not seem to be too
optimistic about the countries future in regards to the next general election
with more than half believing that there will be a repeat of the post-election
violence, this is even after most said that they were satisfied with the
initial august 8th general election results. The working class
individuals who filled in the questionnaires were the ones who stated that the
violence did also affect them financially while those who stated their
occupation as fulltime students barely mentioned any financial stress, they may
be oblivious to other effects that the post-election violence had on the
country. This extended to various parts of the country, a lot of people did not
pay much mind to the violence since there wasn’t any in their area or immediate
there should be cause for worry from national and international community.
During the 2007
elections, I had gone to visit my relatives living in Ngong, Rift Valley. And
that side of rift valley was generally peaceful but we were unable to go home
for over a month due to insecurity on the roads. Phone calls with family at
home and they were just saying that all they’ve been hearing from the house is
gunshots. They said that there were some demonstrations at the beginning but
after that people took advantage of the violence to start looting and
This in turn caused them to go back
and forth with police officers who turned to extra judicial killing of the
people, with even innocents being caught in the cross fire. Fast forward to
2017, 10 years later and we still had so many cases all over of innocent people
being beaten and shot. There were multiple heartbreaking cases of children
being killed by stray bullets, after the first one there was an outpour of
sadness and rage from Kenyans but still it happened again, and again, and
again. Yes independent policing and oversight authority has been carrying out investigations
but still the number of innocent children and adults being killed in the
crossfire is increasing. After 2007, we thought that the horror of what
happened would be enough to teach Kenyans a lesson but still in 2017 it is
happening again, 10 years later we are still the same Kenya underneath all of
The Kenyan government and any
foreign stakeholder should be worried about this trend because there is nothing
saying that the same will not happen in 2022, 2027 and onwards. There needs to
be a reform that will come from within Kenyans, one that will show us that we
have different tribes but we still cry the same, we still bleed the same. The
government and Kenya as a whole need to understand that just because people
stop fighting for a few years it means there’s peace, it’s just a ticking time
bomb waiting to blow in all our faces.
The spreading of fake news has also
caused 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 any
confirmation of the news they’ve come across.
is also something to be said about police brutality, it is difficult to
determine whether it is orders the police get from their superiors to use
lethal force, training the police undergo that may make them bitter and
heartless towards rowdy individual or that all these incidences may be just
that, isolated incidences that may happen in the heat of the moment. But
analysis of this will definitely show that police are using unnecessary force
to control the demonstrators. This is because it does not make sense that every
time police clash with the demonstrators there`s always fatalities.
deaths may intimidate the people for a short time, but they will harbor
negative feelings towards the authorities plus they may direct the violence
towards the police. This will bring a lot of fatalities on both sides. Once war
breaks out, no one is on the right.
example of the United States can be used here, after their most recent
elections, there was widespread speculation about the victory of Donald trump
but there were no instances of post-election violence. This is because there
are set procedures to follow during such events and the citizens themselves
have bought into these procedures. Kenya may have set procedures, but the
citizens clearly do not believe in the processes hence the people believe they
can take matters into their own hands through use of violence.
Kenyans have to transcend above
tribal lines, only then will Kenya realize its true potential as a sleeping
giant in Africa.