Kenya Current Politics Part II

By | May 12, 2021

The recent elections – although found correct by most of the observers sent in – were initially null and void by the Supreme Court, setting a precedent. For the first time in Africa, a state institution that was not of a military nature proved to be stronger than the ruler. Weaknesses in the system had already been denounced before August 2017: More than 9 million potential voters were apparently not in the electoral register, but it is said to have included almost three million voters who have died over the past 20 years. The ruling Jubilee coalition as well as the newly founded opposition alliance NASA(National Super Alliance) tried to mobilize all of their supporters to register as voters. But not only the opposition questioned whether the electoral commission was up to the task of organizing the elections fairly and correctly.

Long towered over by other buildings

Long towered over by other buildings

Once in office, Kenyatta lost little time in securing itself, at least in terms of foreign policy, with important allies. In August 2018, he officially flew to Donald Trump in the White House to expand economic ties. A little later, Great Britain’s Prime Minister May came to Kenya to improve relations with Africa in view of the upcoming Brexit.

Kenya’s politicians had switched to campaign mode early in the year before the 2017 parliamentary and presidential elections. Opposition protests were violently suppressed and police reportedly used shocking brutality. The members of the electoral commission, which were portrayed as incompetent and corrupt and accused of favoring the ruling Jubilee coalition, were once again criticized. The killing of the well-known human rights attorney led to ongoing protests Willie Kimani. There are indications that he, along with the client and driver, became a victim of police officers. The security forces are also accused of serious human rights violations in the context of the fight against terrorism, including the disappearance of many people. The allegations were not designed to increase Kenyans’ confidence in their police. The renowned Economist spoke of a dirty war.

Apart from parliament and the highest offices, the positions of the county governors are particularly competitive in elections. In the course of the decentralization required by the constitution, additional items, mandates and budgets have arisen at the local and regional level. The struggle for power in the counties holds great potential for a resurgence of interethnic conflicts, especially in the Rift Valley.

The drought in East Africa also had a destabilizing effect, affecting hundreds of thousands of Kenyans in the election year 2017, of all places, and which generally slows economic growth. In February 2017, the government declared a national emergency. In March, UN and other organizations asked in an appeal for help for donations amounting to more than 160 million US dollars to 2.6 million Kenyans to provide life-saving assistance. The government itself donated $ 100 million for a nine-month aid program.

The question of the legal investigation of the murders and evictions after the 2007 elections seems to have been almost forgotten.Vice-President William Ruto had to appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity until April 2016, while President Uhuru Kenyatta was able to reach earlier that his trial was put down for involvement in the 2007/2008 post-election violence. That had been a burden for the ruling Jubilee coalition. Will Ruto be dropped or even sacrificed? asked the Daily Nation as early as 2015. But Ruto remained a strong man among the Kalenjin, and together Kenyatta and Ruto initiated the election campaign for which they and the opposition NASA apparently spent a lot of money.

Grist on Kenyatta’s election mill was that he had achieved a massive international appreciation for himself and his country, which was expressed in the 2015 visit by the US President and the Pope. Obama in Kenya – that was one of the most important events in Uhuru Kenyatta’s first term. Two topics dominated the first visit as US President in July 2015: The fight against the increasing threat of terrorism. And the problem of corruption. Until 2015, Obama had avoided Kenya during his tenure as the state leadership in The Hague was under indictment. But the trials failed because witnesses disappeared or no longer wanted to testify. As a strategic partner in East Africa, Kenya is important for achieving US policy goals in Africa. This includes the fight against terrorist groups such as the Somali Al-Shabab, the expansion of trade and electrification, which Obama pursued under the motto Power Africa. Obama’s visit to Kenya was celebrated like the homecoming of a prodigal son; his father was Kenyan and the 44th US President has relatives in Kenya.

During a visit, Pope Francis not only devoted himself to the spiritual edification of his followers, but also warned of corruption and a new colonialism that is dividing the country into the rich and the dispossessed. In the great hall of the UN environmental program UNEP, he called for real steps towards climate protection in the run-up to the Paris climate conference.