JAE Volume 7 Number 2, October 2008
Special Issue: Kenya

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Guest Editor: Gilbert M Khadiagala
Editors: Denis Kadima & Khabele Matlosa

Contributors: Gilbert M Khadiagala, Rok Ajulu, Korwa G Adar, Shilaho Westen Kwatemba, Felix Odhiambo Owuor, Frederick Ogenga, Samuel Kariuki.

Key terms: Peacemaking, in Kenya, 2007, Elections, Democracy, Regional, Violence, Legal Framework, GNU, Separation of Powers, National Legislative Assembly, Ethnicity, Political, Pluralism, Electoral, Laws, Process, Role, Media, Botched, Land Reform Programme, Crisis, 1963-2008, Review, Kenya's Quest for Democracy: Taming the Leviathan, M Mutua, 2008.


Gilbert M Khadiagala

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Gilbert Khadiagala is Jan Smuts Professor of International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Forty Days and Nights of Peacemaking in Kenya

Gilbert M Khadiagala

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ABSTRACT: Recent studies on resolving civil conflicts have focused on the role of external actors in husbanding durable agreements. The contribution of authoritative parties is vital to the mediation of conflicts where parties are frequently too divided and where the stakes are too high to allow bilateral solutions. In the wide-ranging conflicts that convulsed Africa throughout the 1990s mediators helped the combatants to reach ceasefires and find constitutional structures that restored a modicum of stability and civility to tattered polities. More recently, electoral conflicts in Africa have emerged as new sites of external intervention, attracting multilateral and regional actors. The much-publicised cases of Kenya and Zimbabwe are instructive in this regard and constitute interesting areas of research into how external parties have tried to influence the trajectories of coalition governments.
This paper reviews the peacemaking process in Kenya after the contested and violent outcome of the December 2007 elections. After a series of false starts in early January the mediation process stabilised around an African Union (AU) Panel of Eminent African Personalities, comprising former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, and Mozambican luminary Graça Machel. In about 40 days the panel steered the parties toward a power-sharing agreement that was signed on 28 February 2008. In tracing this process I am interested in the issues, the personalities who animated the negotiations, and how the mediators (alongside other external actors) produced the power-sharing outcome. The analysis begins with a background to the conflict, furnishing brief insights into the questions that sparked the violence. This is followed by discussion of the various people who attempted to mediate the conflicts before the emergence of the panel. Subsequent sections address how the mediators engaged the parties and the process of reaching the agreement. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the role of mediators and lessons for other conflicts.

Kenya's 2007 Elections: Derailing Democracy Through Ethno-Regional Violence

Rok Ajulu

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Rok Ajulu is Professor of Political Economy and Head of the Postgraduate Diploma course in International Relation and Diplomacy, University of South Africa

ABSTRACT: The outcome of Kenya's 2007 general elections exposed the soft underbelly of the Kenyan political economy. A country that, until 28 December 2007, seemed built on a solid foundation suddenly collapsed into warring ethnic constituencies, and revealed the fragile foundations upon which the post-colonial Kenyan state was built. Kibaki's decision to steal the 2007 presidential election resulted in a spiral of violence unlike any in Kenya in 44 years of political independence. In less than one month more than 1 000 people died in gruesome ethnic clashes and another 300 000 were displaced. Since then, commentators, scholars and analysts have sought to understand why such gruesome acts of violence could actually take place in what has traditionally been considered an oasis of peace in an otherwise conflict prone region. What went wrong? Why did Mwai Kibaki refuse to concede defeat, and instead opt for a semi-secret swearing in at a private ceremony at State House, disregarding the public ceremony for which the armed forces had been preparing? Why did the electoral commission, supposedly an independent body, fail to follow its own due processes? And how do we explain the violent reaction to Kibaki's illegitimate extension of his incumbency?

The Legal Framework of the GNU and the Doctrine of the Separation of Powers: Implications for Kenya's National Legislative Assembly

Korwa G Adar

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Korwa Adar is Research Director of the Africa Institute of South Africa, Pretoria

ABSTRACT: The central theme of this study is that the formation of the coalition government has undermined the sanctity of the doctrine of separation of powers, is inconsistent with democratic principles, and, more particularly, undermines the right of popular sovereignty exercised by the electorate on 27 December 2007 in conformity with the Constitution and constitutionally established electoral laws. The National Accord and Reconciliation Act which established the government of national unity (GNU) has put in place a unique legal regime in Kenya's post-independence history. In many respects, while Kenya has a multiparty state system it currently operates like a de facto one-party state. The dominant political parties, namely, the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and their party affiliates are the contracting parties to the agreement, leavingthe legislative assembly without an effective official opposition party to check the potential excesses of the executive branch of government. This anomaly is further aggravated by the fact that the third-largest political party, the ODM-Kenya, is an affiliate of the PNU.

Ethnicity and Political Pluralism in Kenya

Shilaho Westen Kwatemba

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Shilaho Kwatemba is a PhD Candidate in the Political Studies Department,University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on the salience of ethnicity in Kenya since the return to political pluralism in 1991. It argues that ethnicity as a variable in Kenya's political processes dates back to the colonial period. Successive governments in that country, beginning with the Jomo Kenyatta state in 1963, perfected the aspect of ethnicity that dovetailed with patronage, rent-seeking and prebendalism to the detriment of the nation state. The paper engages with the theoretical underpinnings of ethnicity in an attempt to understand its overwhelming influence on Kenya's politics, especially in the multiparty era. The thrust of the argument is that unless there is the political will to re-engineer Kenya's polity both politically and constitutionally the nationbuilding project will remain convoluted, frustrating and stillborn.

The 2007 General Elections in Kenya: Electoral Laws and Process

Felix Odhiambo Owuor

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Felix Odhiambo Owuor is Senior Programme Manager of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Political Parties Programme in Nairobi

ABSTRACT: The violence that followed the 2007 elections in Kenya sent shock waves through the country and around the world and raised questions about the Kenyan democratic landscape and the perception of stability in a region which is prone to violent conflict. Having come to power on the platform of comprehensive constitutional, legal and administrative reforms the National Rainbow Coalition government, headed by Kibaki, repeatedly reneged on promises to institute the reforms necessary to secure a new democratic dispensation and redress past imbalances. The consequence was a closely contested election, ethnic division, a flawed electoral process, a weak institutional framework and post-election violence that resulted in death, displacement and the destruction of million of dollars worth of property. This paper analyses the political and electoral environment in which the elections were held and attempts to explore the legal and constitutional framework governing elections in Kenya as well as to make recommendations for the democratisation of the electoral process.

The Role of the Kenyan Media in the 2007 Elections

Fredrick Ogenga

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Fredrick Ogenga, an independent media consultant and analyst, is a doctoral student in media studies at the University of the Witwatersrand

ABSTRACT: This paper argues that the media occupy a central role in the advancement of democracy and should be upheld as an institution that protect democracy. The paper cites the role the Kenyan media played in the election crisis, acknowledging its success but at the same time questioning its failure to protect various aspects of democracy such as the election process. This it does by mentioning the work of various Kenyan journalists who criticised the election process through the media. The paper uses the ideal concept of democratic thought as conceptualised by the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas to examine clinically democracy in Africa and propose an alternative system of human relations as presented by the Ghanaian thinker Stephen Appiah to indicate a move to a more egalitarian society that still recognises liberal ideals.

We've been to hell and back... : Can a Botched Land Reform Programme Explain Kenya's Political Crisis? (1963-2008

Samuel Kariuki

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Dr Samuel Kariuki is a senior lecturer in the Sociology Department, School of Social Sciences of the University of the Witwatersrand

ABSTRACT: A central argument pursued in this paper seeks to accord primacy to the unresolved land reform programme in Kenya in debunking the genesis of the country's intermittent political crises since independence. It is argued that one cannot come to terms with Kenya's failed democratic process without acknowledging the extent to which patrimonial politics were systematically developed and sustained, and the key to this was land. Land as a resource of political patronage, to reward, and punish, those who were part of, or were perceived as outsiders in an evolving political system that personified the ideals of its leaders gained a particular premium, easily manipulated across the three presidential epochs: Kenyatta (1963-1978), Moi (1978-2002) and Kibaki (2002-2007). The failure of land reform contributed immeasurably to the conflict that followed the December 2007 elections. The spatial character of the electoral violence (eg, Rift Valley and Coastal Province) suggests systemic faults that have marked decades of historic injustices brought about by a land reform policy largely informed not by a constitutional pronouncement but by the interests of the incumbent president. The paper concludes that an end to Kenya's political crises is not fully contingent on resolving the land issue, but rather on transcending the quest for land reform as a contributor to economic growth and political stability. This outcome is achievable through more creative means of economic diversification. The reality of Kenya's demographic and environmental pressures attests to the urgency of a shift in the meaning and symbolism attributed to land within the country's polity and its economic realm.


Shilaho Westen Kwatemba

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Kenya's Quest for Democracy: Taming the Leviathan
M Mutua
London: Lynne Rienner Publishing 2008