Lesson to be learned from Kenya.
I don’t know whether Kibaki won the election” -Sam Kivuitu, Kenya Election Chairman, Jan 2, 2008
For the first time in the history of Kenya have two retired presidents in the wings as a third relatively youthful one is at the helm. Most Kenyans do not realize it yet but our circumstances are such that both retired presidents are still extremely powerful. Albeit for totally different reasons. Moi is keeping a low profile because he is more powerful than ever. Kibaki could not have been happier handing over power to his godson and the man who was only a few days old when he himself gave him his name UHURU. Uhuru’s ascension to power was all part of a very elaborate plan hatched in the run up to the 2007 elections. Later the plan took on a new urgency and became a do or die raod map aimed at ensuring that even in retirement Kibaki would stay well away from the menacing claws and reach of the increasingly threatening ICC court at the Hague.
The truth is that as testimonies continue to fly thick and fast from the Hague it will become increasingly clear who the person most responsible for the 2008 post election troubles (according to ICC prosecutors) is. So for those who are alert and observant the question now has to be in view of recent developments, is Kibaki safe from the ICC in retirement? The shocking answer and the latest ICC strategy on Kibaki is revealed in a recent issue of my much Real Time Intelligence Reports
But Kenya’s second president Daniel arap Moi is probably even more powerful in Kenya today. Not only has the former president kept himself very much in the loop with an impressive team of handlers still at his beck and call but he is also the closest mentor that President Uhuru Kenyatta currently has. Remember that it was the same Moi who groomed Uhuru for the presidency in 2002. It was a failed attempt because Mwai Kibaki ascended to the presidency. But Moi’s hard work behind scenes did not go to waste because as you read this Uhuru is now finally president of Kenya.
Fascinatingly very few Kenyans remember that Uhuru had major problems speaking Kiswahili before 2002. Today he speaks and even the Waswahili Kenyans at the Coast with their sophisticated Kiswahili understand what he is saying.Observant Kenyans will also have noticed that Moi has kept a much lower profile since the 2013 elections than he did during Kibaki’s 10 years at State house . Do not for a moment fool yourself that mzee is getting low profile . He is in fact in much better shape than Kibaki (who will celebrate his 82nd year on earth on November 15th. Moi hit 89 on September 2nd).
No 2 still retains much the same programme he maintained during his 24 tenure as president getting up at 4am every day. By the time he sits down to his breakfast of plenty of milk and porridge at 6am he has read all the newspapers and has a pretty good idea of what is going on in the entire Kenya republic. This information helps him a great deal in the councel he gives to President Uhuru on a regular basis. Politics aside our president is indeed lucky to benefit from the vast experience and wisdom Uhuru has and all he has to do is listen and take only what he wants to use. He doesn’t have to be another Moi because that won’t quite work in today’s rapidly evolving Kenya.
Lesson to be learned !
Kenya conflict analysis
The carnage was horrific: 1,500 dead, 3,000 innocent women raped, and 300,000
people left internally displaced. Most of these atrocities happened in the first 14 days after
the 2007 Kenyan general election. The severity of this conflict unfolded in a span of 59 days
between Election Day, December 27th, 2007 to February 28th, 2008, when a political
compromise was reached. The magnitude of the trauma and structural violence that took
place in Kenya after the fourth multi-party general election took both Kenyans and the
international community, alike, by surprise (Maupeu, 2008). In retrospect, the violence that
occurred could not only have been predicted, it could most likely have been prevented.
One of the foundations of this conflict analysis is that what took place during the
Kenyan 2007 elections had its roots in a weak national constitution. This constitution has
progressively lacked a healthy checks and balances system between the executive, legislative
and judicial branches of government. Over the span of three decades, amendments to the
constitution were made to systematically erode these balances in favor of strengthening
presidential powers. The result of these broad powers effectively made the presidential
office equivalent to a dictatorship, which gave the president the ability to use and abuse this
power without restraint.
The quote at the top of the page is pregnant with irony and is an example of what
can occur as a result of a strong yet corrupt executive branch. Mr. Kivuitu was the chairman
of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), the governmental organization that certifies
the election results. The irony is that in 2007 he certified that Kibaki won the election
apparently without actually knowing whether or not he had won. Why would he do this? As
a testimony to the imbalance of power in the executive branch, the leading ECK staff,
including the chairmen, are appointed by the president. Therefore, one possible explanation
is that he feared losing his job. But how did the presidential office in Kenya become so
History of the Conflict
The country of Kenya was ruled by the iron hands of two men in succession from
1963 to 2002: Jomo Kenyatta (1963-1978) and Daniel Moi (1978-2002). In 2002, there was a
change: the ruling political party, the Kenya African National Union (KANU), that had ruled
the country since independence, collapsed. It collapsed beneath a new political party
comprised of an alliance that had formed between all of the major Kenyan tribes. This
political stakeholder was named the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC). The election
victory was a landslide. Mwai Kibaki of the NARC won 62% of the vote on a platform of
fighting corruption, forming a coalition government that shared power amongst the various
tribes, and changing the constitution within 100 days of being elected to limit the executive
power that had ballooned over the previous four decades(Mutua, 2008; Calas, 2008). People
across Kenya from all tribes felt hope that the country’s government was finally on the verge
of a system of governance that would have accountability through shared power.
Yet, within weeks of the election, the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that
forged the tribal factions into the NARC alliance and that got Kibaki elected had effectively
collapsed (Mutua, 2008: 285). The agreement in the MOU to share power within the cabinet
did not occur, as four key positions that were to be created, including that of a Prime
Minister position, did not materialize forward (Mutua, 2008: 284). Kibaki, from the Kikuyu
tribe, broke his election promise and filled many appointed positions with fellow tribesmen,
thus following in the footsteps of his presidential predecessors by selecting people for
appointed positions primarily through tribal bias (Mutua, 2008: 285). This in turn led to
discrimination of many people of other tribes who were more qualified.
Whether the decision to keep the massive executive power that Kibaki had
campaigned to reform was premeditated, or whether he succumbed to certain pressures by
his fellow tribesmen to hoard power within the tribe once in office may never be known.
The result was the same: the disintegration of the NARC party and the broken promises of a
shared government and new constitution. This left many citizens tasting what could have
been and frustrated over what should have resulted from the new government coming to
power in 2002. This frustration fueled the violence that took place after the election in 2007.
. World view Analysis
a. What are the life experiences that have shaped how this person understands
The life experience that has shaped the typical Kenyan citizen’s understanding of
conflict is similar to those in post-colonial nations that have succumbed to dictatorship. In
the Kenyan context, this translates into the average citizen believing that the executive
branch always wins, and that those in power will do whatever it takes to stay in power. This
was seen with Kenyatta (a Kikuyu who was Kenya’s first president) who utilized his position
to consolidate power by encouraging KANU members of parliament (MPs) to make
significant ratifications to the constitution between 1964 and 1969, thus effectively create a
Upon Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Moi (from the Kalenjin tribe) assumed the
presidency through his constitutional right as Vice President, and was able to take advantage
of the vast infrastructure of executive power Kenyatta had created. This was especially seen
by Moi’s ability to abolish the multiparty system through an amendment to the constitution
in 1982, effectively making him head of both the executive branch and Parliament. (Mutua,
. Even when the multiparty system reemerged in 1991, Moi was able to use his
position to limit the opposition through intimidation as well as create votes through voting
fraud in the elections of 1992 and 1997. For example in the 1992 election, it is estimated
that around 1 million youth were not allowed to register to vote because they were denied
the national identity cards needed to register . This is an example of structural
The Kenyan citizen’s life experience of understanding conflict through the
dominance of the executive and political elite is illustrated by the fact that the constitution
was amended 28 times from 1963 to 1992, each time limiting the freedom of its citizens and
expanding the power of the executive and political elite. In contrast, the US Constitution,
which from 1788 to 1992 was amended 27 times, with arguably 18 of the 27 protecting or
expanding freedom of its citizens. An example of the dominance and corruption of the
political elite in Kenya is seen in the salary and allowance of the average MP: $169,625 as of
2004 while the average Kenyan income is $400 (Economist, December 16, 2004). This is in
comparison to the US congressional salaries of $158,100 during that same time period. This
discrepancy is due to the MP’s setting their own compensation instead of an external
committee like in many other countries, which is yet another example of an unethical
practice seen in government.
The many amendments to the Kenyan constitution were possible, because the
original constitution of 1962 1) was not created by the political leadership from the various
tribes similar to how the US constitution was created in the Continental Congresses, and 2)
did not allow Kenya to be truly independent from Britain since it had a governor in the
executive branch who was answerable to the Queen . These two points led
an initial amendment to the constitution to create the Kenyan republic and office of
president. As Mutua so eloquently puts it: what resulted was that “the colonial state
survived, and it morphed into a postcolonial variant, only too ready to continue tormenting
its subjects” (Mutua, 2008: 60). Had the Kenyan political leadership “owned” the initial
constitution, it would have more likely had a chance to succeed through a healthy checks and
balances system between the three governmental branches.
b. What cultural group does this person belong to that shapes their view of the
conflict? What identities does this person hold that benefit from engaging in
The questions of how culture and identity shape peoples view in regards to conflict are
very similar questions in the Kenyan context, and have their roots in their tribal identity.
Within Kenya, there are five main tribes: Kikuyu (22%), Luhya (14%), Luo (13%), Kalenjin
(12%), and Kamba (11%). The Kalenjin people are more of a compilation of smaller tribes,
namely: the Kipsigis, Marakwet, Nandi, Pokot, Endorois, Sabaot, Terik, Elgeyo and Turgen.
The commonality that united Kalenjin in the early 1950’s and made them one of the five
main tribes was their common language.
Political parties in Kenya typically fall under tribal lines, valuing ethnicity above
political ideology and policy. This is due to the perception that the party offers the best hope
for one within the tribe to assume power and then share state resource.
Paper analysis will continue tomorrow!