A prominent electoral administration body that protects individual and business interests and the involvement of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in succession politics could see the outcome of the country’s general election in August being contested.
In a report released earlier this week by the International Crisis Group (ICG), Kenya‘s election results for the presidency this year could be more controversial than in 2002 and 2013, when a new president took office.
The report, titled “Kenya’s 2022 Election: High Stakes,” says the Aug. 9 election could be challenged in court. This may indicate either more trust in the courts or less trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Citing post-election violence in 2007-8, ICG says elite polarization, particularly the rift between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, has contributed to perceptions that the security services may not play a neutral role in the election period.
Other factors such as inequality and Kenya’s deteriorating economy create the risk that unemployed youth could be recruited into gangs.
Four candidates for the presidential nomination were released this week, with polls showing Mr Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga leading the race.
“Perhaps the greatest concern is that Ruto, Odinga and Kenyatta all enjoy significant electoral support, and none seem willing to endure the exclusion from Kenya’s clientelistic politics that an election defeat brings,” the report said.
“The combination of high tensions within the elite and weak institutions means that the outcome of the vote may well be contested if one of the main candidates denies official results, claiming they were cheated. A key scenario for unrest would be if one group or another of Kenya’s political leaders decides to play on existing ethnic and economic divisions to drive voters onto the streets, rather than concede defeat,” the report added.
According to the report, the IEBC has not adopted all the rules of fact-finding commissions that examined weeks of mass violence related to elections in 2007 and 2008, which killed more than 1,100 people and displaced at least 600,000 others.