Kenya is set to hold its general election which is scheduled for August 2022 with more political activity taking center stage almost 14 months to go. There seems to be a lot of tension amongst Kenyans following the recent by-elections in Juja, Rurii and Bonchari which reportedly had run ups following the allegations by both parties who claimed harassment of both Politicians and voter by the police and endless claims of voters bribery by unknown men.
And while democratic elections are usually seems promising, Kenya has reportedly developed a firmly established nature of electoral malpractices and violence. Despite once believed to be a beacon of peace in Africa, during the 1992, 1997, 2007, and 2017 general elections the country experienced violence that killed many people and displaced hundreds of thousands more. While conflict triggers are multi-dimensional and include historical, structural, institutional, legal, and cultural factors, they have always reflected tensions between ethnic identities. This is because the foundation of pluralistic democratic politics in the country was anchored on political party structures that originally segmented the country along ethnic lines.
A similar pattern of violence as that exhibited in the lead-up to the 2007 elections has cropped up today. Battery of political intolerance and violence have been reported in Murang’a, Githurai, and Kisii (Personal observation notes from Sentinel Project staff member, 2021). These tensions are generally related to ongoing campaigns over BBI Bill which was recently termed as unconstitutional by a bench of five High Court judges, a draft bill which was calling for a constitutional referendum in June 2021 before the general election in August 2022.
This background is relevant when looking ahead to the 2022 election because many of the same underlying risk factors continue to be present while new exacerbating risk factors have now appeared.
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