Special Issue: Kenya’s 2017 Presidential Elections

Kenyans go to the polls on August 8, 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta of the ruling Jubilee Party is up against Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader from the National Super Alliance (NASA). While electoral contests involving incumbents are seen as routine processes with predictable outcomes in many African countries, the same cannot be said of Kenya’s 2017 elections. In 2013, Uhuru Kenyatta secured the presidency with only 50.01 percent of the vote against Odinga’s 45 percent. Many observers have argued that the 2013 elections fell short of what is generally considered free and fair electoral practices. In 2017, major improvements have been made to the electoral process, including the strengthening of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) identification system, which collapsed in the last cycle. Further, the opposition is more united and has taken advantage of rising costs of living, widespread corruption, and perceptions of exclusionary politics to craft a message that has strengthened their position in the polls. Importantly, while ethnicity-based fault lines continue to dominate political discourse, there has been sustained debate on important issues such as historical injustices, land compensation for internally displaced persons, rising cost of living, public debt, and the type of “development” that Kenya needs.

This Special Issue of Kujenga Amani on Kenya’s 2017 Presidential Elections, edited by Dr. Duncan Omanga (IRG 2014) focuses on a variety of the issues and debates prominent in Kenyan society surrounding the elections that may influence their results.

Special Issue: Kenya's 2017 Presidential Elections | August 4, 2017

Imagining Canaan: Singing Opposition Party NASA’s Vision in Kenya’s 2017 Elections

Music and songs have been deployed in variegated contexts and for diverse concerns. However, the focus of this article is specifically on the mobilization of music and song in promoting political messages and visions. There are numerous examples of the overt deployment of music and song in politics and civic activism. Interesting instances abound from […]

Raila Odinga address the crowd at Uhuru Park in Nairobi during a rally flanked with journalist behind him and the crowd below.
Special Issue: Kenya's 2017 Presidential Elections | August 4, 2017

Not Yet Uhuru: Is This the Making of Kenya’s First One-Term President?

In his 2017 New Year message, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed confidence at being reelected. Indeed, polls showed him likely to win by over 50 percent if elections were called. But things have since changed, and President Kenyatta faces the possibility of being Kenya’s first one-term president. The latest polls released this week show a statistical […]

Uhuru Kenyatta Election Posters along a road in Nairobi, Kenya
Special Issue: Kenya's 2017 Presidential Elections | August 4, 2017

The Land Question in Kenya’s 2017 General Election: A Historical Review

All major violent conflicts in Kenya have had a connection to land. Presently, villagers have vacated large swathes of land in Baringo North, Laikipia, and Elgeyo-Marakwet, as well as along the Meru-Isiolo border and Kitui-Tana River border, having fled from cattle rustlers. There are low-intensity conflicts and potential conflicts in scores of other areas: for […]

Woman in a field of maize in Kenya Isiolo, Merti (Biliko)
Special Issue: Kenya's 2017 Presidential Elections | August 4, 2017

The Bankruptcy of Peace, and of the Constitution, in Kenya’s 2017 Elections

The 2010 Constitution of Kenya is transformative, to say the least. It is, however, bankrupt on peace; so is the country. The word “peace” appears a paltry four times in the constitution: first in the Preamble, second in Article 37 on the right to “peaceable” demonstrations, third in Article 238 (1) on threats to national […]

Peace March in Kibera with signs saying "Stop and Think Peace in Kibera" and "Peace" on a rainbow background with a peace sign.
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