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Kenya: Containing a Rebounding Crisis

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Publication Date: February 2008

Publisher(s): Center for American Progress

Author(s): Gayle Smith

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Funder(s): Center for American Progress

Topic: Human rights (Human rights promotion and violations)
Politics (Political status)

Type: Report

Coverage: Kenya


The crisis in Kenya poses an enormous challenge to the United States, not least because it has already triggered the killing of over 1000 Kenyans and displaced hundreds of thousands. Kenya has experienced violence in the wake of every election in its modern history, and though the recent violence is unprecedented, its roots extend well beyond the feud between Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity, or PNU, and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement, or ODM. While the level of violence in the wake of December elections caught many off-guard, it is a not entirely surprising manifestation of intertwined political, economic, and ethnic divisions that have gone untended for decades. Significantly, a crisis that began as one between two political parties has now expanded to include conflict between political constituencies, between ethnic communities, and between economic classes. At the same time, the post election violence has also laid bare a deeper constitutional crisis and the weakness of Kenya’s core institutions.