Kenya’s political situation – causes, effects, future scenarios
Incumbent president Mwai Kibaki won the election with 4,58 million votes over his rival, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), who received 4,35 million votes. The requirement for winning the presidential race was a minimum of 25% of the votes in at least five of the eight provinces.
Odinga’s supporters say that the election was rigged and unfair. Violence erupted as ODM supporters refused to accept the outcome of the election. They believe that their leader, Odinga, was cheated through vote-rigging, and that Kibaki’s win represents a Kikuyu win, a sensitive issue in a country with entrenched ethnic rivalries dating back to colonial times. Ethnic tensions have been a feature of
Kibaki and Odinga’s supporters are said to be divided along tribal lines, sparking fears of ethnically-motivated attacks against the Kikuyu people, whom Odinga’s supporters feel have been overrepresented in the government and political sphere, while Kenya’s other tribal groups have been marginalised. Kibaki is Kikuyu, while Odinga belongs to the Luo tribe. Of more than 30 ethnic groups in
Speculation about the integrity of the election process has been further fuelled by a public statement from the chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, in which he indicated that he was forced by the government to prematurely declare Kibaki the winner.
Burning and looting has ensued in
As at 3 January, an estimated 300 people had been killed, and 100,000 displaced. A church was torched near Eldoret, and 30 people died in that incident.
Having reopened after the holidays on 2nd January, the Kenyan Stock Exchange suspended trading the next day because of renewed violence in the capital. Auctions of tea and coffee (
To understand the events that have followed the presidential poll, it is necessary to understand some background of
A brief political history
Daniel arap Moi (of the Kalenjin ethnic group) succeeded the popular ‘Mzee’ Kenyatta as president of
Mwai Kibaki became president of
The Kibaki presidency
Kibaki succeeded Moi as president, having led the coalition party that won the December 2002 general election, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). Kibaki had the support of former president Moi, who endorsed Kibaki’s candidacy, saying that he believed Kibaki to stand for national unity.
Although Kibaki presided over
The NARC party saw some fundamental changes in 2007, when five of its senior members defected to a smaller opposition party (Shirikiso Party of
Kibaki announced in September 2007 that he would run for president under the banner of the Party of National Unity (PNU), a coalition of KANU and other parties.
Kibaki vs. Odinga…. A long-standing rivalry
Raila Odinga led the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had broken away from the ruling KANU party before the 2002 elections. Odinga was said to have presidential aspirations even at that time, and the subsequent separation of his LDP from KANU resulted from dissatisfaction that Mwai Kibaki, and not Odinga, had been selected as Moi’s successor.
In the negotiations that ensued, Odinga was offered an executive prime minister position under the Kibaki presidency, a decision that required an amendment to the constitution. This process did not go smoothly, and Kibaki was seen to have reneged on his promise to Odinga. As a result, the proposed constitution was rejected by an LDP-Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) alliance.
Kibaki dismissed all seven of the LDP ministers who had rejected the proposed constitution, and they subsequently merged with the opposition to form an alliance called ODM-Kenya. This alliance became an official political party in 2006.
Odinga broke away from ODM-Kenya around August 2007, and the party was divided into two rival factions. Odinga’s camp retained the name Orange Democratic Movement (ODM).
The presidential race was tight, with opinion polls in the run-up to the election showing an even split between the two men. Analysts drew parallels between it and
Implications for the Kenyan economy
In the run-up to the elections, the business sector was largely dismissive of the possibility of any adverse impact on the economy from the elections. The Central Bank governor of
So where to from here?
While the country is still in a state of turmoil currently, it is not envisaged that after the dust settles there would be any radical changes to economic policy. The country has seen strong economic growth and improvements in the business environment in recent years, and it will be in the government’s interest to maintain that trajectory. However, restoring relationships with the donor community, and the international investor community, as well as improved governance, will be critical to the continued success of the Kenyan economy.
The main sectors of the Kenyan economy are manufacturing, commerce, transport and communication, the hospitality industry and agriculture.
Transport and communication was one of the fastest growing sectors in 2007. This sector is at risk, as perceptions of safety in
Although the hospitality sector (hotels and restaurants) only generates 2% of national output, it has been one of the fastest growing sectors, and it is likely to also be impacted negatively.
Given its position as the economic hub of the East African region, a significant share of
The effects of
iii) Interim arrangement
Sources: Africana Encyclopaedia, edited by Kwame Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates Jnr.
Standard Bank Group Economics.
Economist Intelligence Unit. Business
Mail & Guardian. January 4 to 10, 2008
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