n Journal of African Elections - Old wine in new skins - Kenya's 2013 elections and the triumph of the

Volume 12, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



On 4 March 2013 Kenya held transitional elections that were significant for three reasons. Firstly, they were a test of the country's institutions under the new Constitution, which was promulgated in 2010. In 2007 Kenya experienced violently disputed elections, partly because of weak and dysfunctional institutions not capable of impartially arbitrating political disputes. Secondly, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto presented a joint presidential ticket despite having been indicted by the International Criminal Court as among suspected masterminds of the 2007-8 post-election violence. Thirdly, Raila Odinga, the loser of the controversial 2007 presidential election, attempted to succeed the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, through a third presidential bid. Thus stakes were much higher in 2013 than at any other election time in Kenya's independence history. Some reforms under the new Constitution, the Kikuyu-Kalenjin tribal alliance and the ICC factor ensured that the elections were relatively violence free. However, as in the past, the presidential contest was primarily about control of the state by expediently cobbled together ethnic alliances of self-styled ethno-regional barons for spoliation opportunities. In this article I argue that the triumph of the ICC duo was a setback for reform since it ensured continued dominance of Kenya's economic and political spheres by the . Kenyatta and Ruto could not countenance reforms because they were beneficiaries of an unreformed and centralised state. Thus they were bound to frustrate implementation of the Constitution, which was intended to secure Kenya's stability by consolidating democracy.

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