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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ethnicity, intra-elite differentiation and political stability in Kenya
Author:Bedasso, Biniam E.ISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic term:Kenya
Subjects:ethnic relations
political elite
Abstract:Politics in Kenya remains vulnerable to ethnic tensions despite its openness and vibrancy, but it can also be argued that Kenyan politics is becoming increasingly mature. This article explains the political economy dynamics behind the first two orderly presidential successions in post-colonial Kenya. It proposes a conceptual framework that shows how instrumental ethnicity plays out in a quasi-differentiated society in which ethnic organizations are the key conduits for the flow of rents between political and economic elites. More specifically, it shows how the internal fragmentation of ethnic groups intensifies the structural uncertainties that are commonly associated with intra-elite pacts in weakly institutionalized polities. It is argued that the 1978 and 2002 presidential successions in Kenya were orderly, paradoxically, because some of the crucial political and ethnic organizations were fragmented to the extent that they created conditions of great uncertainty for the elite. In this context, the rule of law was upheld as a last-ditch strategy to mitigate uncertainties in the face of rampant fragmentation. This shows that ultimately elite fragmentation can generate political stability provided that there is enough at stake for the elites. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]