International

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Kenya’s Fall Threatens East-African Region

January 21, 2008 10:12 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Not only Kenya’s hopes but also those of its neighbors were riding on the Dec. 27 election. The violence that followed the contested result damaged a model African economy.

30-Second Summary

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On Dec. 19, The Economist published an article stressing the importance of the coming ballot: “If a country as complex and poor as Kenya can hold genuine elections without civil strife, then any country in Africa can. This is its chance to set an example.”

That opportunity has been lost. Opposition leader Raila Odinga accused President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the election.

There seem to be good reasons for questioning the results. EU Election monitors noted a discrepancy of 25,000 votes between their figures and the government statistics. Some areas of Kenya recorded more than 100 percent of the electorate voting.

However, the U.S. State Department’s top diplomat to Africa, Jendayi Frazer, told the Council on Foreign Relations that the West shouldn’t jump to conclusions.

“The United States government had two hundred observers on the ground,” said Frazer, “and we’ve looked at various scenarios and depending on how you look at the scenarios, Kibaki could have won, or Raila could have won.”

Whatever the results should have been, there is no evading the death toll: around 600 Kenyans have died in the violence that followed Kibaki’s declaration of victory.

Frazer concludes that the turmoil in Kenya is already having a negative effect on its neighbors Sudan and Somalia.

The prompt recovery of Kenya’s former status looks increasingly unlikely. Alex Halperin, whose blog offers some level-headed but alarming accounts of the troubles from inside Kenya, considered the same issue for Fortune magazine in the first week of January.

“The election and ensuing violence have tarnished Kenya's reputation as a stable haven nestled between flashpoints like Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan,” wrote Halperin.

The odds of that stain being removed soon diminish with every day that Kenya fails to resolve the election crisis.

Headline Links: From inside Kenya

Key Players: Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga

Opinion & Analysis: Kenya’s election; regional impact

The regional impact
Electorate betrayed
The problem with African democracy

Reference Material: Fact and figures on Kenya

Historical Context: Kenya

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