News / Africa

Kenya Power-Sharing Plan Sparks Conflict

Demonstrators burn tires to protest the results of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primary elections, in Aherou, Kenya on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. This week, political parties held internal elections to decide candidates who will vie for gubernatorial, senate, county and women representatives seats in the upcoming March 4 elections.
Demonstrators burn tires to protest the results of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) primary elections, in Aherou, Kenya on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013. This week, political parties held internal elections to decide candidates who will vie for gubernatorial, senate, county and women representatives seats in the upcoming March 4 elections.
Gabe Joselow
When Kenyans go to vote in March general elections, they will, for the first time, be selecting candidates for newly-created positions including governor, senator and women's representatives.

The new positions were created as part of a process of "devolution" laid out in the new constitution to distribute power and resources from the central government to local constituencies.

'Tearing the country apart'

But recent violence in the country's Tana Delta region, and the chaos of Kenya's party primary contests, could signal that a process designed to bring people together could instead be tearing the country apart.

Ekuru Aukot, the head of the constitution writing team, said the point was to correct the wrongs left over from years of colonial rule and the legacy of former Kenyan leaders who consolidated power in the central government and in their own tribes.

He says one of the concepts of devolution is “that level of inclusiveness, making every part of Kenya relevant to the governance of the country.”

Bringing government down to the local level will provide better access to education and health services as well as infrastructure and development funds, according to Aukot.

“People wanted power to come close to them,” he says. “They wanted to be able to make decisions for [themselves].”

Exacerbating problems

But problems have started to surface.

Last week, Kenya's party primaries for the newly created positions were marred by disorganization and allegations of vote rigging.

The International Crisis Group warns competition for these positions could increase the likelihood of violence around the election. In a new report on Kenya, the group says “candidates could exploit and aggravate local grievances and disputes to mobilize support.”

An example of this may already be playing out in Kenya's Tana River region, where back-and-forth raids between the Orma and Pokomo communities have killed more than 140 people since August. One of the suspects charged with instigating the violence, former member of parliament Dhadho Godhana, is running for governor.

The implementation of devolution has been problematic, according to ICG Kenya analyst Abdullahi Halakhe, who notes the boundaries of some of Kenya's 47 counties have been drawn in a way which groups populations by tribe or clan.

“Theoretically, devolution is looked at as a panacea for exactly the same problems that it's now exacerbating, if not carefully crafted,” he says.

Ethnic alliances

Tribalism was a mainstay of Kenyan politics long before the new constitution was written.

Presidential candidates normally choose running mates from other tribes to help them shore up as much of the vote as possible.

The presidential nominee for the Amani coalition, Musalia Mudavadi, believes it makes sense for a candidate to focus on his tribal base.

“[We] have to be realistic that the trend has been that somebody, first of all, consolidates a certain groundswell of support and then moves over to try and link up with other people,” Mudavadi says.

A political moderate, Mudavadi comes from the Luhya community, Kenya's second-largest tribe. He draws much of his support from western Kenya, which is also the home turf of Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Despite the current necessity for ethnic alliances, Mudavadi sees signs Kenya is slowly moving away from tribal politics.

“I'm not saying we're out of the woods yet, and perhaps we may not be for a fairly long period of time,” he says. “But we are gradually beginning to embrace politics that rotate around issues more and more.”

Post-election violence

Kenyans have firsthand knowledge of the dangers of tribal politics.

More than 1,100 people were killed in inter-ethnic fighting after the last disputed election in 2007.

Keen to avoid a repeat of that post-election violence, Kenyans hope a new system of government will help heal old wounds, rather than create new conflicts.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
January 23, 2013 5:25 AM
the thing that will always spark conflicts is the total belief on things like number of electorate will be the absolute makers of leaders..they must know that millions and billions of voters can go astray..let there be wisdom the next time..raila,kalonzo,wetangula,uhuru,ruto should stop relying on the numbers of their tribes..they are not the well known best choosers in the world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid