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Background to 2013 Kenyan Election
David Zarembka, AGLI Coordinator

Kenya received independence from Great Britain in 1963 with Jomo Kenyatta (Kikuyu) as president and Oginga Odinga (Luo) as vice-president. This alliance broke down and Kenyatta jailed Odinga for two years. When Kenyatta died in 1978, his vice-president Daniel Arap Moi (Kalenjin) became president for the next twenty-four years until 2002. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the international community pushed the one-party Kenya to adopt multi-party democracy. This was implemented for the 1992 election, which Moi won as he divided the opposition. This also resulted in considerable violence in the north Rift Valley between the Kalenjin tribes and the Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya, and others. This same scenario was repeated in the 1997 election and Moi again won re-election with renewed violence in the Rift Valley.
By the 2002 election Moi was no longer eligible for re-election because a two-term limit was introduced into the constitution. He appointed Uhuru Kenyatta (Kikuyu), the son of the first president, to run on his party’s ticket, but the opposition this time united against his hand-picked successor and Mwai Kibaki (Kikuyu) became president. One of the promises of Kibaki’s campaign was to adopt a new constitution which would decentralized the government. In 2005 after a long process, the new “devolved” constitution was proposed, but the Kibaki government changed the draft to keep the all-powerful centralized government. People were incensed and Raila Odinga (the son of Oginga Odinga) who had supported Kibaki for the presidency led the opposition by forming a new party called the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). This led to the defeat of the proposed constitution in the referendum and set the stage for the December 2007 election in which Raila challenged Kibaki for the presidency.

The 2007 election was badly run, mis-handled and led to violent unrest when Kibaki was announced the winner as the opposition considered the election to have been rigged. The post mortem consensus is that no one really knows who won this election. Over 1,200 were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced. Additionally there was vast destruction of property in some regions of the country. The crisis lasted two months until Kofi Annan, the former general secretary of the United Nations, negotiated a power-sharing deal where Kibaki would remain president and Raila would have the new position of Prime Minister – ministerial positions and other government positions would be shared equally. In 2010, Kenya did adopt a new constitution with a devolved government with 47 new counties, thereby decentralizing the government.

By the 2013 election, Kibaki’s two terms were completed and the two major candidates became Uhuru Kenyatta (Kikuyu) and Raila Odinga (Luo) – the two last names were the same as 50 years previously as the sons were now facing off. This is the context for the election violence prevention work we have been doing.