beyond the chaos, kenya and its institutions

Who would have thought back in 2002 that it was under a Kibaki presidency that Kenya would experience violence and chaos of the magnitude being reported in the news? Who would have guessed that Kibaki, the gentleman of Kenyans politics, would be the one being accused (whether justly or not) of rigging elections and trying to unlawfully hang onto power?

As Kenyans deliberate among and within themselves on the way forward, it is important to reflect on the causes of the existing mayhem and establish some truths. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, I am of the opinion that the existing anarchy in Kenya is as a result the lack of strong, impersonal institutions.

The lack of strong institutions handed the country a compromised electoral commission, full of appointees of the same person running for re-election. It was always obvious who the commissioners would side with in the event of a disputed outcome as was seen last Sunday. It therefore came as no surprise that while admitting that there were irregularities and suspicious figures on the tallying sheets, the commission did not order a recount or complete audit but proceeded to declare the president the winner base on the same questionable figures.

The lack of a culture of independent institutionalism has also made the opposition wary to present their case in the Kenyan high court, yet another institution teeming with the president’s appointees. In fact it is this lack of faith in the judiciary that left Kenyans no alternative but to resort to justice by the masses, which has unfortunately been laced with rioting, murder, ethnic confrontations and looting.

As the politicians get ready to have dialogue and possibly come up with a power sharing arrangement, on top of the agenda should be a clear and genuine commitment to the creation of impersonal institutions that will serves Kenyans well. It is of paramount importance that Kenyans develop confidence in the country’s institutions in order to avert situations when citizens take the law into their own hands – as we are witnessing now.


It is also important for Kenyans to realize that they cannot afford to take the back seat and let the politicians “institutionalize” tribalism. Kenyans should unite in their opposition to ethnic polarization because the country needs all its citizens in its quest for economic and social development. The just concluded elections have shown that it is quite possible for Kenyans of different ethnicities to come together for a common cause. Wananchi should be proud of this fact and not let the politicians take it away from them.

more violence expected at tomorrow’s odm rally in Kenya

The main opposition party in Kenya, ODM, has announced that it will go ahead with its scheduled protest rally tomorrow in Nairobi in defiance of a government ban on all political rallies. Kenya has in the last three days witnessed the worst kind of violence in its 44-year history due to disputed results of the just concluded presidential election.

The government insists that the incumbent won while the main opposition party believes that they were unjustly denied victory through rigging. Observers, both local and international, and the electoral commission of Kenya have said that there were irregularities in the tallying of results and that this might have influenced the outcome of the polls.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Wednesday that his party will not relent in its quest to have Kibaki resign. He also set this as a pre-condition for any level of dialogue between him and the president.

And to complicate matters further, the head of the electoral commission said Wednesday that he doesn’t know who won last Thursday election and that he announced the results while under duress from the government.

As the politicians remain stubborn and unwilling to resolve the impasse, ordinary Kenyans are the ones bearing the brunt of the stalemate. The death toll this far is believed to be over 300 and property worth millions of shillings destroyed. Shops remain closed and those that have opened ran out of supplies as people rushed in to stock up.

Thrusday’s opposition rally will be a real test for both sides of the political divide and may determine the course of events in this formerly peaceful and stable country in East Africa.

Many concerned Africans have expressed shock and disappointment as one of the rare working models of democracy and economic development on the continent goes up in flames infront of their eyes. The African Union president John Kofuor of Ghana is scheduled to jet into the country on Thursday to try and mediate between the president and his opposition rival.