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Protesters hold banners during a demonstration against the suspension of governorship elections in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on March 11. (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images)

In the run-up to the recent elections in Nigeria, an article in Quartz Africa declared that “it’s become much harder to rig elections in Nigeria thanks to technology.” Looking on from about 3,000 miles away, Kenyans would be excused for stifling a laugh. The two countries share a history of electoral malpractice, and technology had been hailed as a guarantor of the credibility and integrity of the election in Kenya as well. The reality, however, turned out to be quite different. As the dust settles on Nigeria’s elections amid reports of technology failures and violence, it is clear that digital elections are no panacea.…  Seguir leyendo »

No one company should have the power to manipulate the psychology of an entire country. We now know that Cambridge Analytica has done just that — not just in the United States, but also in the fragile political systems of the global south.

The company mined Kenyan voters’ data to help President Uhuru Kenyatta win disputed elections. Over two presidential election cycles, it presided over some of the darkest and most vicious campaigns Kenya has ever seen. Cambridge Analytica confirmed its involvement to an undercover reporter for Britain’s Channel 4, which released an exposé on Monday. Executives were taped saying that they ran “just about every element” of Kenyatta’s campaign in 2013 and 2017, including rebranding his party twice, and writing the campaign’s manifesto and speeches.…  Seguir leyendo »

Crisis Group’s recent publications on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), including our 4 December 2017 report, examine the crisis provoked by President Joseph Kabila’s determination to hold onto power and repeatedly delayed elections. The DRC is only one of three African countries we cover whose future course could depend in part on the holding of credible elections: one vote past, in Kenya; one future, Zimbabwe’s 2018 polls; and one deferred, in the DRC.

These polls have had – or will have – important implications for democracy and stability not only in the three countries themselves but for the region as a whole.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kenya’s opposition National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga (center) and other National Resistance Movement leaders hold crosses of people allegedly killed by police in recent demonstrations during their memorial service at Kibera Slum in Nairobi, on Nov. 28, the day of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration ceremony. (Brian Otieno/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

This week Kenyans are going through a replay of their disastrous 2007 election, only in super-slow motion. A decade ago, the country endured a disputed election in which the incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, was running for re-election against opposition leader Raila Odinga. Under intense pressure from the state and surrounded by armed paramilitary police, the head of the electoral commission declared Kibaki the president-elect. (The commissioner would later say that he did not know who had won.)

Within half an hour, as the sun was setting and darkness fell over the grounds of State House, Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in. “With the election now behind us,” he declared, “it’s time for healing and reconciliation.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A Kenyan security force member in Nairobi on 30 October. Photo: Getty Images.

Kenya’s presidential election of 8 August was annulled by the Supreme Court, which ruled it unconstitutional – a historic first for the country, and for Africa. The election was repeated on 26 October. Turnout fell from 79.5 per cent to 38.8 per cent as the effects of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s boycott, broader public disenchantment with the credibility of the process and political fatigue made themselves felt. Even in areas supportive of the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, participation dropped sharply. On Monday 30 October, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declared Kenyatta the winner, with 98 per cent of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

A polling station in Gatundu, Kenya, on Thursday. Calls for a boycott by the leader of the opposition coalition and fears of violence kept many voters away. Credit Kabir Dhanji/European Pressphoto Agency

Kenya held a rerun of its presidential election on Thursday, and Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent, will undoubtedly get the most votes. Under the circumstances, though, that hardly is a crowning achievement.

hursday’s vote was supposed to be a corrective for the election held in August, which was invalidated by the Supreme Court after the opposition leader Raila Odinga called it fraudulent and questioned its constitutionality. But earlier this month, citing the failure to fix the systematic flaws he had denounced, Mr. Odinga announced that he was withdrawing from the latest race and called on his supporters to boycott the voting on Thursday.…  Seguir leyendo »

An election official prepares election material at an IEBC center in Nairobi. (Reuters)

Kenyan voters are at the polls again today for the second time in three months. In September, the country’s Supreme Court annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Aug. 8 election victory over opposition leader Raila Odinga after allegations of fraud. The ruling, the first of its kind in Africa, has been hailed as a victory for the rule of law both in Kenya and across the continent.

But however pathbreaking the court’s ruling may be, the country’s electoral institutions are in crisis. In the weeks since the court’s ruling, Odinga has withdrawn from the race, citing a lack of confidence in the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) and calling on his supporters to boycott today’s voting.…  Seguir leyendo »

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images. Opposition candidate Raila Odinga at a rally in Kisumu, Kenya, October 20, 2017

On September 1, after Kenya’s Supreme Court became the first in Africa to nullify a flawed presidential election, Kenyans danced in the streets and some revelers pledged to convert to Seventh Day Adventism, the religion of Kenya’s somber chief justice, David Maraga. Then the mood darkened. President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose dubious victory had been overturned, told supporters that the judges were “crooks” and threatened to “fix” them. Chief Justice Maraga revealed that he and his bench colleagues had received numerous threats; when nearly $5 million mysteriously appeared in his bank account, he instructed the bank to return it at once.

A rerun was scheduled for October 26.…  Seguir leyendo »

“La grandeza de una nación reside en su fidelidad a la Constitución y a la adherencia estricta al imperio de la la ley”. Estas palabras fueron pronunciadas el 1 de septiembre por David Maraga, presidente del Tribunal Supremo (TS) de Kenya, al anunciar la anulación de las elecciones presidenciales celebradas en el país el pasado 8 de agosto. El fallo de la máxima corte afirmaba que la declaración de Uhuru Kenyatta como vencedor de las mismas es “inválida y nula”, añadiendo que la junta electoral “falló, descuidó o rechazó conducir el proceso electoral de acuerdo a los dictámenes de la Constitución”.…  Seguir leyendo »

A supporter of the opposition leader Raila Odinga in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. It is often said, “When Kibera burns, so does Kenya.” Credit Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

Peace means so much more after you’ve experienced violence. Less than a month ago, my country, Kenya, held a hotly contested presidential election. On the morning the polls opened, my heart raced — I come from and work in the Kibera slums, and it is often said, “When Kibera burns, so does Kenya.” But not this time.

During my childhood, campaign season was the only time we ate rice. My mother would come home with a small portion of rice, a handout from a politician. “Where did the rice come from?” I would ask her, and she would say from someone campaigning, the name unimportant, her vote equally unassured.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga cheer outside court on Sept. 1 after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Aug. 8 election win was declared invalid in Nairobi. (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

In a ruling that shocked the world, the Kenyan Supreme Court on Friday annulled the Aug. 8 reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta and ordered a fresh election — which will be held on Oct. 17.

Four of the six justices found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) did not conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with law, and that it committed “irregularities and illegalities.”

On Aug. 11, Kenyatta was declared the winner with 54 percent of the vote against opposition candidate Raila Odinga’s 44 percent. International poll observers had endorsed the outcome, which appeared to be corroborated by a parallel vote tabulation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Baz Ratner/TPX/Reuters. Kenyans waiting to vote in the presidential election, Gatundu, Kenya, August 8, 2017

On August 8, millions of Kenyans formed long, orderly lines outside polling stations across the country to vote in presidential and local elections. Kenya is notorious for corruption, and virtually all prior elections had been marred by rigging. This time, however, the US and Kenya’s other donors had invested $24 million in an electronic vote-tallying system designed to prevent interference. When Kenya’s electoral commission announced on August 11 that President Uhuru Kenyatta had won another five-year term with over 54 percent of the vote, observer teams from the African Union, the European Union, and the highly respected US-based Carter Center, led by former Secretary of State John Kerry, commended the electoral process and said they’d seen no evidence of significant fraud.…  Seguir leyendo »

Polling station officials count the ballots at a polling station in Archers Post, Samburu County, in Kenya on 8 August 2017. AFP/Cyril Villemain

Despite claims of irregularity and the continuing risk of unrest, Kenya’s pivotal national and local elections on 8 August passed off in a largely peaceful manner. Millions of voters braved the elements and long queues, turning out to elect their representatives in an orderly fashion and, in so doing, demonstrating faith in their democratic system. This is an achievement that now must be protected and fortified.

The vote in one of Africa’s major democracies was fraught with danger, as Crisis Group has documented. A history of election-related violence, ethnic divisions and high stakes made for a potentially explosive combination. The world was watching closely, sending more than 5,000 foreign observers, drawn from all major regional and international organisations. …  Seguir leyendo »

Raila Odinga arrives at a polling station on 8 August. Photo: Getty Images.

Raila Odinga is refusing to accept his likely loss in the 8 August presidential election, as he did in 1997, 2007 and 2013, because he claims the vote has been rigged against him.

While at the time of writing there seems to be less evidence that supports his assertions than in 2007 and 2013, the murder of the head of IT at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the IEBC’s decision to announce unofficial results, has created doubts in the mind of voters about the integrity of this election.

In a speech at Chatham House in 2016, Odinga emphasised that Kenya’s electoral body must be transparent in order to enable elections that are not only peaceful, but credible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters chant during a campaign rally by Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, the presidential candidate of the National Super Alliance (NASA), in Mombasa, Kenya, on Aug. 4. (Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

Kenyan voters will choose their next president Tuesday in one of Africa’s few competitive elections. Election outcomes in Africa are typically known well in advance because incumbents rarely lose: Sitting presidents and their designated successors have won 80 percent of elections since 1990.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was reelected last year after defeating his closest rival by more than 20 percentage points. In Tanzania, John Magufuli, the candidate of the country’s only ruling party since independence, beat his main opponent by more than 15 percentage points in 2015. Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, was just reelected this past weekend with more than 98 percent of the vote.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of civil society groups protest the killing of Christopher Msando, electoral commission information technology manager, at a demonstration in Nairobi on Tuesday. Msando, an official crucial to running Kenya’s presidential election, was found tortured and killed, the electoral commission chairman said Monday, as concerns grew that the East African nation’s vote could again face dangerous unrest. (Ben Curtis/AP)

On Aug. 8, Kenyans will cast their ballots for about 1,880 positions, including president and vice president. Over the past year, the electoral process has been marred by violence perpetrated by politicians, party agents, protesters and security forces. Will this affect voters’ decisions to turn up at the polls?

Surprisingly, violence before an election doesn’t drive down the vote overall

As one of us, Stephanie Burchard, found, election violence occurs in roughly 50 to 60 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s elections. Most incidents tend to be violent harassment and intimidation of voters and candidates, although about 20 to 30 percent of elections experience politically motivated assassinations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dear friends of Crisis Group,

On 8 August 2017, Kenyans will vote in eagerly anticipated local and presidential elections. The country’s strategic role as East Africa’s transport and commercial hub, the fact that it is one of the continent’s major democracies, and a history of election-related violence explain why these polls are so important and why they will be closely watched. As in past electoral cycles, the 2017 election is hard to call, the campaign has been vigorously fought and there is concern that voting could be marred by violence.

Since the start of the year, Crisis Group has been following the political campaigns and monitoring preparations for next Tuesday’s poll.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Kenyan woman casts her vote at a mock polling station during a pre-election exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya, on 12 June 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenya is scheduled to hold a general election on 8 August. The vote comes ten years after a disputed presidential poll brought the key East African country to the brink of civil war. Hundreds of thousands were uprooted from their homes and 1,100 killed in weeks of ethnic fighting and street protests that were met by a brutal police response following the election in December 2007. The next election in 2013 passed off relatively peacefully. In 2017, the presidential race between two scions of Kenya’s most prominent political families has drawn the most attention. But local elections for powerful elected governors are also likely to be bitterly contested.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Samburu tribesman and cattle herder looks on as cows walk through a fence destroyed by other Samburu tribesmen in Mugui conservancy, Kenya, on 11 February 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Clashes between pastoralists, farmers and conservationists in the central Kenyan county of Laikipia – triggered initially by drought but worsened by political tensions linked to local elections scheduled for August – could escalate into a wider, even more damaging conflict unless authorities act quickly to defuse tensions.

Laikipia has long been contested land. It sits at the foot of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest mountain. In recent decades, its sweeping Savanna vistas have made it one of the country’s most important tourist destinations while its ample fertile land has attracted commercial agriculture. For centuries before this, however, the region’s permanent springs, basalt hills and open grassland supported the semi-nomadic lifestyles of local pastoralist communities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ethnic Contest and Electoral Violence in Northern Kenya

The two northern counties of Isiolo and Marsabit are among the most conflict-prone in Kenya. The region is mainly semi-arid, and most residents are pastoralist nomads who often clash over access to scarce pasture and water. A new devolved system of government has intensified local political competition in the two counties, especially for the powerful elected governor positions. This means general elections in August could trigger intercommunal fighting. There is still time, however, to encourage a peaceful vote.

Devolution of power and resources was one of the centrepieces of the 2010 constitution, intended to reduce the previous all-or-nothing electoral battles for the presidency, and redress regional marginalisation and inequitable development.…  Seguir leyendo »