Conflict management in Kenyan electoral conflict: 2002-2012


In the recent years, majority of African countries have been faced by conflicts during election periods. Some of the electoral related conflicts escalated into violence, and they have been transformed or managed. While other electoral related conflicts have just been prevented during the election periods but remain latent conflicts that would escalate triggered by future elections. This study focuses specifically on electoral conflicts in Kenya and its conflict management perspective from 2002-2013. To transform and manage the conflict, peacebuilding initiatives have been integrated in the study. The prime actors in Kenya electoral conflict includes the; the ruling party coalition, the leading opposition coalition and ethnic groupings affiliated to the ruling party and opposition. Other peripheral actors include: the Independent, Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the judiciary. Triangulation (the combination of two or more methods of collecting and analysing data) has been adopted both in data collection and analysis. Focus group interviews, selected individual interviews, and literature reviews were used to collect data, while research findings were analysed systematically using the constructivist grounded theory. Moreover, the liberal peace theory, Institutionalisation before Liberalisation (IBL) and findings from other researchers like (Elder, Stigant and Claes 2014:1-20), and the Afrobarometer research findings (Kivuva 2015) have been used to authenticate the research findings. Research findings indicates that claims of election rigging, numerous institutional failures, negative ethnicity and economic disparity, among other factors heighten the fear and anxiety that escalates during elections. Towards achieving peacebuilding and sustainable peace, the following reforms were undertaken: constitutional changes and reviews, electoral body reform, judicial reform, pursuit of transitional justice, extensive range of local initiatives reforms and police reforms. However, findings in the study also reveal that despite the latter reforms, peacebuilding measures have been short-term, temporal, and not fully successful, leaving behind a latent conflict that could be triggered again with future electoral conflicts. Besides that, negotiation, dialogue and mediation played a role in restoring trust and confidence in the democratic structures after escalated elections. We also recommend that multi-ethnic composition for electoral coalitions should also be adopted as a means to mitigate ethnic triggered conflicts

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