The rise of militia groups in political violence: A case study of Chinkororo with special reference to the post election violence in Kenya
Militias have become an important player in the perpetration of politically instigated violence. The rise of militia groups as a player in political violence has generated responses from several quarters, including law enforcement, and civil society. Law enforcement has responded to the phenomenon of violence through the invocation of laws that prohibit membership of, or adherence to, proscribed organizations. As a result of this action, militia groups such as Mungiki, Taliban, Jeshi fa Mzee and Kamjeshi have found themselves proscribed. The other response to the rise of militia group activity is the rise in academic interest in the activities of such groups. It is true that there is now an unprecedented interest among academics, in attempting to understand the organization of these groups and what they portend for the political situation in the country. This project is a study of the role of militias in the growing problem of political violence in Kenya, perpetrated in the context of electoral competition. The main thrust of the study is an investigation into the internal organisation of militias in Kenya, with a view to finding out how these groups establish and sustain themselves. The study also seeks to establish the relationship between militias and political players, with a view to explaining the pre-disposition for the use of these groups in the perpetration of violence. The study further examines the responses that law enforcement has had towards militias and queries the effectiveness of these in combating militias. The study selects for examination as a case study the role of chinkororo, a militia group that operates within the Gusii community in western Kenya, and uses the experiences of this group-to bring out the various aspects of the discourse on millitias in Kenya . The study is inspired by Kenya's experience of serious political instability, verging civil war, when the results of the presidential elections held in the country in 2007 were rejected by the opposition. Although this was by far the worst episode of election-related violence to be experienced in Kenya, it was not the first one. The elections held in 1992, 1997 and, to some extent those of2002, were also accompanied by significant amounts of violence. -The violence which followed the 2007 elections was more severe than any of the previous incidents of violence, and, although lasting a relatively short period of time, it led to very considerable humanitarian suffering, the loss of lives and the internal displacement of a large section of the population. The 2007 political crisis necessitated a mediated settlement, led by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities constituted by the African Union, and violence became the subject of official investigation by a commission of inquiry, established as part of the mediation of the political crisis in the country. It is hoped that the findings of this study will inform the options that Kenya has to consider for achieving political stability and overcoming the culture of violence which now threatens the country's very statehood.