n Journal of African Elections - Kenya's 2007 elections : derailing democracy through ethno-regional violence

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The outcome of Kenya's 2007 general elections exposed the soft underbelly of the Kenyan political economy. A country that, until 28 December 2007, seemed built on a solid foundation suddenly collapsed into warring ethnic constituencies, and revealed the fragile foundations upon which the post-colonial Kenyan state was built. Kibaki's decision to steal the 2007 presidential election resulted in a spiral of violence unlike any in Kenya in 44 years of political independence. In less than one month more than 1 000 people died in gruesome ethnic clashes and another 300 000 were displaced. Since then, commentators, scholars and analysts have sought to understand why such gruesome acts of violence could actually take place in what has traditionally been considered an oasis of peace in an otherwise conflict prone region. What went wrong? Why did Mwai Kibaki refuse to concede defeat, and instead opt for a semi-secret swearing in at a private ceremony at State House, disregarding the public ceremony for which the armed forces had been preparing? Why did the electoral commission, supposedly an independent body, fail to follow its own due processes? And how do we explain the violent reaction to Kibaki's illegitimate extension of his incumbency?

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