The Crisis in Kenya

Issue Date July 2008
Volume 19
Issue 3
Page Numbers 162-168
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The article examines the key reasons why Kenya, which had avoided the major conflicts that afflict Africa and considered as one of Africa’s more stable States, so quickly descended into violence and anarchy “in the typical African way” after disputed elections in 2007. While many were shocked that a country that has held regular elections since independence in 1963 and with the trappings of a functional democracy—a parliament, a judiciary and a vibrant civil society—could tread the path of failed states, this article argues that democracy is not just about holding elections but the mechanics and procedures of accountability in between elections. The article thus examines the deadly consequences of impunity, unchecked corruption, and woefully bad governance in Kenya, and how all these factors combine to feed and fuel inequality and injustice. In seeking answers to what went wrong in Kenya the article provides practical steps to making democracy work in the context of Kenya’s long search for equilibrium.

About the Author

Maina Kiai is chairman and founding executive director of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights as well as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya. This essay draws on his keynote address at the Fifth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Kyiv on 6 April 2008.

View all work by Maina Kiai