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Kenya: Elections Ready or Not, 2

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Feb 9, 2013 (130209)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

Violence in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan elections which claimed 1,300 lives shows just how vital it is Kenyan police are properly prepared ahead of polls this March, Amnesty International said in a new report, Police Reform in Kenya: A Drop in the Ocean. The report details how delays in implementing new laws on policing mean that many of the same police structures in place during 2007-8 post-election violence will be responsible for security for the 4 March vote.

In addition to this report from Amnesty International, there is no shortage of well-informed commentary, by Kenyans and others, on the risks of violence in the elections. I have picked several to included in today's two AfricaFocus Bulletins, for their clarity and provision of background accessible for a general audience (those who are neither Kenyans nor Kenya specialists).

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a statement by Makau Mutua, chair of the non-governmental Kenya Human Rights Commission; the press release on a new report by Amnesty International on Police Reform in Kenya; and the summary of a pre-election report from the International Crisis Group.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin, sent out by e-mail today and available on the web at, contains a "Contingency Planning Memorandum" on electoral violence in Kenya, authored by Joel Barkan for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Other sources for recent reports of special interest include the governmental Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (, the civil society Kenya Human Rights Commission (, Kenyan Elections 2013 Peaceful Prevention and Community Reporting Project (, Uchaguzi (elections, from Ushahidi, the group that pioneered this kind of web monitoring tool in the 2007 elections, International Criminal Court Monitor (, and the Kenya issues page of the Friends Committee on National Legislatin (

And from May of last year, but still very relevant, is Karen Rothmyer's article on the complex implications of the International Criminal Court process on Kenya, which could still have its own impact on the likelihood for violence. See

For news, see and

And for previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Kenya see

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

Perhaps we should postpone the March General Election

By Makau Mutua

January 26 2013 / direct URL:

Makau Mutua is Dean and SUNY Distinguished Professor at SUNY Buffalo Law School and Chair of the KHRC. Twitter @makaumutua

* Not ready: Parties were exposed as highly disorganised and totally unprepared

* I prophesy nothing, let alone doom; I am rather giving a warning about what is likely to happen

Kenya could as well postpone the March elections. Last week's party primaries made one thing crystal clear. Kenya is ill-prepared to conduct free and fair elections in March.

No one, and no single institution, is ready for the elections. Only a goddamned fool would go down a cliff with a car that's got no brakes. There is a real danger that peace would be seriously disturbed during, and after, the elections.

Take this to the bank –ndash; Kenya is too fragile a state to withstand violent clashes in every corner of the country. If we love Kenya –ndash; and we do –ndash; let's debate about the need to extend the date of the elections until we are reasonably ready.

There are five reasons why I think the elections must be put off. First, these are the most complex elections in Kenya's history. The new Constitution, though a blessing, has created seemingly byzantine electoral norms and structures that are flummoxing not only to the ordinary Wanjiku, but to the elites.

It's a complex system that would be challenging even for a developed democracy with a largely literate electorate.

None of these two conditions obtain in Kenya. Ours is a poor electorate that's largely gullible. Our demagogic politicians know just how to bamboozle the electorate with money and tribal myopia. Mix this witch's brew with political skulduggery, deliberate sabotage, and rentseeking and you get a pregnant powder keg –ndash; a political volcano.

Second, a General Election is a process, not a single event. But one of the most important events in that process is political party primaries. Free and fair elections are eviscerated where party primaries are shambolic.

It's like making tea without water, or milk. It's a practical impossibility –ndash; it simply can't be done. Water or milk is a condition sine qua non to tea.

Primitive test

There isn't a single sane person who thinks the party primaries last week even pass the most primitive test. Missing, or stuffed ballots, rogue returning officers, dictatorship by party bosses, blatant nepotism and tribalism, vote-buying, daylight violence, voodoo math in vote-counting, and false results made nonsense of the exercise. It was a total sham.

The primary results are unsalvageable because they affect the two major coalitions –ndash; Cord and Jubilee. You can't have a credible General Election where the two major alliances have fake or illegitimate primaries.

It seems only Musalia Mudavadi's Amani, Martha Karua's Narc-K, Peter Kenneth's Eagle, and James ole Kiyiapi's RBK carried out passable primaries.

But they are too small to restore legitimacy denied to the process by the main groupings. Cord and Jubilee botched the primaries partly because they carried them out too late.

The tactic to prevent losers from defecting to rivals was the last straw. Parties were exposed as highly disorganised and totally unprepared. That's why the primary results are fruits of a poisoned tree –ndash; they are deadly and completely inedible.

Third, the two institutions charged with overseeing elections "completely went south". Both the IEBC and the Registrar of Political Parties were a disgrace. They lazily and incompetently stood by rather than superintend themselves over the primary elections.

The RPP allowed the registration of new parties by politicians who belonged to other parties.

The IEBC and RPP failed to enforce legal deadlines for the integrity of the process. Parliament itself mutilated the Constitution by amending enabling laws to favour late party hopping, and pushed key deadlines to the edge of non-compliance.

The IEBC delayed voter registration and failed to check the accuracy of voter rolls. The IEBC and RPP allowed parties to bully them into incompetence, laxity, and several illegalities.

Fourth, the IEBC and the RPP shouldn't have allowed the parties to carry out the primaries by themselves. It's true that under ordinary circumstances parties do so. But the IEBC and the RPP know –ndash; as do all Kenyans –ndash; that our political parties are a fiction. They are nothing but husks for their bosses.

Jubilee belongs to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta while Cord is the property of PM Raila Odinga. This is the bitter truth.

Parties have no firm structures, or internal democratic norms. That's why the IEBC should have stepped in to oversee the primaries with firm credible deadlines. The IEBC's failure to intervene has given us cooked and illegitimate results. Primaries weren't even conducted in several cases.

Fifth, Kenya doesn't have sufficient security apparatuses to effectively deal with violent breakouts all over the country during and after the elections. The competence and effectiveness of our police service has been brought to question. Look at their inability to deal with localised terror in Tana River.

Multiply that by a factor of 50 during the election and let us, in all honesty, say if they will be able to restore order. Unless the primary elections are repeated to produce credible results, there will be both "intra" and "inter" party violence.

You will have URP folks fighting TNA candidates, and ODM candidates fighting Wiper ones. And then you will have Cord candidates going after Jubilee ones and vice-versa. The whole thing is likely to degenerate into mayhem.

Finally, the electorate is highly tribalised, as are the parties. ODM didn't really stage primaries in Central Kenya, nor did Jubilee in Nyanza. This doesn't bode well for the March elections. I know there are those who will call me a "prophet of doom". That's their right.

But I prophesy nothing, let alone doom. I am rather giving a warning about what is likely to happen. It's cockamamie to lay aside realistic analysis for wishful thinking. It's foolish. It's like rejecting warnings not to drink hemlock –ndash; then gulping it –ndash; and hope to survive.

Kenya: Stalled police reform is a risk to elections

Amnesty International

30 January 2013

Violence in the aftermath of the 2007 Kenyan elections which claimed 1,300 lives shows just how vital it is Kenyan police are properly prepared ahead of polls this March, Amnesty International said in a new report, Police Reform in Kenya: A Drop in the Ocean.

The report details how delays in implementing new laws on policing mean that many of the same police structures in place during 2007-8 post-election violence will be responsible for security for the 4 March vote.

"With five weeks to go to the elections the Kenyan authorities must show the political will and take urgent measures to prevent human rights abuses during the election period. said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International's Deputy Africa Programme Director.

One government official told Amnesty International that new laws and equipment introduced since 2008 are just a "drop in the ocean.

The report documents continued human rights violations by the police, despite ongoing reform, including arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment.

The police have also failed to protect people from human rights abuses in the Tana Delta, where 200 people have been killed and 112,000 displaced since August 2012.

And there has been little movement towards bringing the police to account either collectively or individually for these human rights violations.

The report urges the authorities to take immediate steps to improve capacity so that security officials are able to prevent abuses, and ensure that they themselves refrain from human rights violations during the elections.

Amnesty International urges the National Police Service Commission to publish a code of conduct for the police during the election period and to ensure all law enforcement officials receive training ahead of polls opening, including on limitations on the use of force, and non-violent tactics including negotiation and mediation.

"The authorities should ensure there is a clear strategy for how the elections will be policed, said Jackson, "It should include commitments to the public on how the police will prevent human rights abuses and keep them safe.

After the elections, the newly inaugurated government should act swiftly to demonstrate its commitment to police reform, and address shortcomings which underpin impunity for police abuses.

This must include ensuring that all police bodies, including those responsible for standards, have the necessary funds to carry out their vital work.

"By taking immediate steps ahead of the March 2013 elections, and by prioritising the implementation of reform once voting is over, the Government of Kenya can finally end the impunity which the police have enjoyed for far too long, said Jackson. "It must not miss this opportunity.

Kenya's 2013 Elections

Africa Report No. 19717 Jan 2013

International Crisis Group /

Executive Summary and Recommendations

Kenya's elections this year should turn the page on the bloodshed of five years ago, but the risk of political violence is still unacceptably high. A new constitution, fresh election commission and reformed judiciary should help. But the vote, now set for 4 March 2013, will still be a high-stakes competition for power, both nationally and in 47 new counties. Forthcoming trials before the International Criminal Court (ICC) of four Kenyans for their alleged role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence look set to shape the campaign. The potential for local violence is especially high. Politicians must stop ignoring rules, exploiting grievances and stoking divisions through ethnic campaigning. The country's institutions face fierce pressure but must take bold action to curb them. Business and religious leaders and civil society should demand a free and fair vote. So too should regional and wider international partners, who must also make clear that those who jeopardise the stability of the country and region by using or inciting violence will be held to account.

Many reforms were initiated to address the flawed 2007 polls and subsequent violence. A new constitution, passed in a peaceful referendum in August 2010, aims to fortify democracy and temper zero-sum competition for the presidency by checking executive power. New voting rules require the president to win more than half the votes and enjoy wider geographic support. Power is being devolved to 47 counties, each of which will elect a governor, senator and local assembly. Despite recent mishaps, the new Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) still enjoys public trust. Judicial reform, including the appointment of a respected new chief justice, also augurs well for a more robust response to electoral fraud and disputes.

The new institutions, however, have their work cut out. The ICC proceedings are influencing political alliances and the campaign. The four individuals facing trial deny the charges and maintain their innocence. While the cases aim to erode impunity long enjoyed by political elites and may deter bloodshed, they raise the stakes enormously. The two most powerful of the accused, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, look set to contest the elections on a single ticket (Kenyatta for president, Ruto for deputy president). Both have politicised the ICC cases, deepening ethnic polarisation, and have accused Prime Minister Raila Odinga, their strongest opponent, of conspiring with foreigners against them.

The Kenyatta-Ruto alliance would be a strong ticket. Aware that Kenyans want an end to impunity, both have pledged to comply with the ICC, even if they win. Yet, regardless of the outcome of their cases, a president facing lengthy trial before the ICC could potentially have extremely damaging implications for reform and foreign relations, which Kenyatta's backers should ponder carefully. For the moment, their eligibility to run for office remains in doubt; a case challenging their compliance with new constitutional requirements for public officials' integrity is with a high court and may find its way by appeal to the Supreme Court. Were the courts to find Kenyatta and Ruto ineligible after the closing date for submitting nomination papers on 30 January, their supporters would be unable to choose alternative candidates, which might lead to strong protests and even spark conflict. Dealing as it does with a highly charged political issue, whichever way it goes, the final decision is likely to be contentious. If possible, the date of any decision should be announced in advance so the security agencies and others can prepare accordingly.

Other signs are also troubling. Political parties and politicians flout new rules unchecked. The IEBC's bungled procurement of voter registration kits reduced the confidence it previously enjoyed and suggests it may struggle to resist enormous pressure as the vote approaches. The late start to registration has cut all fat from the electoral timeline, and any flaws will heighten tension. The IEBC must work transparently with parties and other stakeholders to clarify and regularly review the timeline, so as to avoid any further –ndash; and highly-charged –ndash; delays.

Voter education will be crucial. It is the first general election under the 2010 constitution, with new rules that are considerably more complex than previous polls (each voter will cast six ballots). Limiting confusion and misunderstandings could help reduce disputes and election-related conflict. It is also vital that the IEBC provide sufficient access and information to citizen observers and other civil society groups. They must be able to plan their deployment properly and enjoy full access to every part of the election process, especially the tallying of results. Such groups can also be useful allies in bolstering commissioners' ability to resist political interference.

Insecurity too poses a huge challenge. Despite the reforms, many structural conflict drivers –ndash; continuing reliance on ethnicity, competition for land and resources, resettlement of internally displaced people (IDPs), and poverty and youth unemployment –ndash; underlying the 2007-2008 violence remain unresolved and may be cynically used by politicians to whip up support. Many of those who fled the turmoil remain displaced. Land disputes feed local tension. Youth unemployment is still very high and, together with poverty and inequality, means a steady flow of recruits for criminal groups and militias that can be mobilised to intimidate opponents and their supporters or protest results, as they have in the past. Attacks blamed on the extremist Al-Shabaab movement and clashes over land can cloak political violence. Meanwhile, police reform has lagged and the security forces look ill-prepared to secure the polls. An experienced inspector general of police, David Kimaiyo, has been appointed, but the delay in his selection means little time remains for significant security reform. Multi-agency security planning, which has also lagged, must be completed and implemented.

Ethnic campaigning and horse-trading as alliances formed –ndash; by Kenyatta and Ruto but also other leading politicians –ndash; have deepened divides. How the supporters of either of the two main tickets, those of Deputy Prime Minister Kenyatta and former cabinet minister Ruto running and of Prime Minister Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka respectively, would respond to losing a close vote it perceives as flawed, or even to early signs it is falling behind, is unclear. International partners, including regional neighbours whose economies rely on a peaceful transition, should monitor any signs of interference or violence and weigh in quickly to deter it. Devolution, for all its benefits, introduces new conflict dynamics, as competition between groups for power and resources controlled at county level becomes fiercer.

All these challenges are surmountable, especially given the remarkable determination of most to avoid a repeat of 2007-2008. But they require concerted action by Kenya's institutions and their allies, and –ndash; most important –ndash; clear signals to leaders who are seen to be prioritising the pursuit of power. The people deserve better. To put the horror of five years ago behind them, they deserve the chance to vote without fear and elect leaders committed to reform and ready to serve society as a whole rather than the narrow interests of its elites.


To President Kibaki and the government of Kenya:

1. Press all candidates to commit publicly to respect election rules, campaign peacefully and contest the results through legal, non-violent means.

2. Continue to urge the national and all provincial security committees to complete security planning, identify vulnerable counties and deploy accordingly.

3. Support the IEBC proposed Joint Risk Assessment and Response Centre for sharing information and coordinating operations among national and local security organisations and committees, as well as civil society groups.

To Kenya's political parties and coalitions:

4. Commit publicly, and together, to respect rules, campaign peacefully, avoid hate speech and divisive mobilisation and pursue any petitions or other election grievances only through legal channels.

5. Recruit party agents early and work with international partners to ensure they understand their role and follow the rules in the polling centres.

To Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto:

6. Provide the public with a clear, detailed account of how you would propose to govern while also conducting your defences before the ICC, taking into account the time required and the demands of appearing in person in court on a different continent.

To the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and acting registrar of political parties:

7. Improve outreach and communication with stakeholders, including political parties, candidates, the media and, in particular, civil society, with which a strong alliance is especially important to resist political pressure; and provide citizen observer groups the information they need in a timely manner.

8. Press for all candidates at national and county level and political parties to adhere stringently to the Code of Conduct enacted as part of the 2011 Elections Act.

9. Keep tight focus on operational planning, especially on vote counting and tallying of results, including for the likely presidential run-off; and make results for both rounds publicly available and disaggregated by polling stream to allow for their verification by citizen observers and party agents.

10. Take action, in coordination with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, against political parties and candidates that violate rules, campaign divisively or use hate speech.

To Kenya's business and religious leaders and other influential citizens, including the media:

11. Denounce publicly hate speech and ethnic chauvinism and use actively their resources for civic and voter education.

12. Consider carefully the implications for Kenya of a president facing trial before the ICC.

To Kenyan civil society groups:

13. Form ad hoc umbrella committees to capitalise on each organisation's expertise and avoid duplication, in order to find a collective voice and increase their influence; continue preparations to monitor the campaign and vote, use parallel vote tabulation responsibly and work with and support the IEBC if it is performing well.

To regional leaders, especially the governments of the East African Community:

14. Send unambiguous public and private messages against political interference with the elections and especially against the use of or incitement to violence.

15. Support the efforts of the joint East African Community election observation team, as well as of other observation missions.

To Kenya's other regional and wider international partners, especially the African Union, U.S., European Union and its member states, UN and International Financial Institutions:

16. Send unambiguous public and private messages that politicians must not meddle with the IEBC or the judiciary and that political violence will be sanctioned, including, if appropriate, by adopting travel bans or asset freezes.

17. Ensure all regional and wider international observation missions deploy early, to as many counties as possible, and cooperate to align their statements and avoid duplication.

Nairobi/Brussels, 17 January 2013

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see

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