The role of ethnicity in democratization in Africa
Mwangi, Lucy Wangari
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The constitution-making process in Kenya has not only been unsuccessful but has also stalled at several points while bearing the characteristic of sporadic violence between different ethnic groups. This study sets out to investigate the role of ethnicity in constitution-making in Kenya with the period under review being between 1990 to 2005. The study establishes that ethnicity has been used as a political tool in Kenya since the colonial times. In the post-independence period, this was exhibited by ethnic political appointments in all the regimes that have ruled the country. It was also evident in the voting patterns during presidential elections and the constitutional referendum that ethnicity is a central line of cleavage. The hesitancy and stalemate in the constitution-making process in Kenya stems from the fear that if any thorough economic and political reforms are implemented, most powerful politicians will loose credibility. The study concluded that the results of the 2005 referendum suggest that ethnicity is important in explaining constitutional choice in Kenya. The association between ethnic identity and political affiliation in Kenya has provided the underlying logic for politically motivated ethnic violence. Such violence has also affected the constitution-making process both negatively and positively. The study also identified possible solutions to the ethnic conflicts in multi-ethnic societies and specifically the Kenyan case including new constitution, devolution and so on.