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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Weapons of mass destruction: land, ethnicity and the 2007 elections in Kenya
Authors:Rutten, MarcelISNI
Owuor, SamISNI
Periodical:Journal of Contemporary African Studies
Geographic term:Kenya
political violence
ethnic relations
land conflicts
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02589000903118904
Abstract:A number of political commentators, the media and observers have portrayed the 2007 election violence in Kenya as an ethnic conflict between two of the largest tribal opposing factions: the Kikuyu and the Luo. However, the situation in a multi-ethnic country like Kenya could prove to be much more complicated than one may think. According to S. Mueller (2008) the violence was a result of weak institutions, mostly overridden by a highly personalized and centralized presidency, and political parties that are not programmatic, driven by ethnic clientism, and have a winner-take-all view of politics and its associated economic by-products. The Africa Policy Institute (2008) described it as a crisis of democratic transformation typically experienced by countries facing a closely contested election. During an interview at the Wilson Centre on 10 January 2008, Maina Kiai said that 'this is not an ethnic conflict; this is a political conflict with ethnic overtones' caused by the lack of transparency in the elections. M. Githinji and F. Holmquist (2008) argue that the crisis is best understood not simply as ethnic rivalry for power but rather as a product of rising expectations due to the increase in democratic space in the last five years combined with the frustration of exclusion on the economic and political front. Finally, others are of the opinion that the violence was a spontaneous reaction targeted against Kenya's stolen election. This article traces the history of ethnic relations and conflicts over land, starting from precolonial times, and shows that Kenya's crisis has deep historical roots. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]