Kenya: Back from the Brink?

Issue Date October 2008
Volume 19
Issue 4
Page Numbers 125-139
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Previously considered one of Africa’s few emerging democracies with a growing market-economy, Kenya was rocked by the most violent inter-ethnic killings in her history following the December 2007 general elections. Far from being old-fashioned “tribal conflict” that is said to afflict Africa, the violence was in the first instance a reaction by supporters of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement to the disputed presidential election results in which their candidate, Raila Odinga, was declared to have lost. The violence turned into calculated attacks targeting the country’s economically-dominant minority, the Kikuyu, to which the declared winner, Mwai Kibaki belongs. International mediation stopped the mayhem just as it was turning into a civil war. Kenyan could revitalize her democracy and economy by devising a new constitution and electoral system better suited to her ethnically pluralistic character.