Mediating violent electoral conflict: a case study of Kenya, 2008
Muriuki, Sylvia W
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One of the major attribute of a democratic political system is holding of free and transparent elections periodically. Holding of elections is viewed as the most peaceful way of changing political leadership and the highest expression of people's choice of how they want to be governed. However, in africa violent electoral conflicts have become prevalent.lndeed, whenever there is an approaching elections in Africa save for some relatively stable countries like Ghana,South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana there is always a high risk that the elections might lead to violence or civil war.ln the past few years electoral related conflicts have occured in Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya. In Kenya which is the focus of this study violent conflict broke out after the presidential results were announced on 30th December,2007. The declaration of Mwai Kibaki as the winner was challenged by his closest rival Raila Odinga.Consequently Odinga's supporter started to protest violently and in less than a week after the electoral results were announced, the violent protests had all the indicators of a well organized and coordinated ethnic conflict.ln reaction to the violent conflict various local and international efforts were commenced with an aim of making the parties agree to a mediated outcome. The effort were fruitful and eventually an African Union led mediation process was initiated. This study has analysed the AU-led Kenya post electoral conflict.lt has analysed the three phases of the mediation process. These are the pre-mediation, mediation and post mediation phases. It has examined at conceptual level the activities which takes place at every stage and applied the same to the Kenya's post electoral violent conflict mediation process.In addition it has examined the factors which influenced the mediation process. Factors analysed include the issues in conflict, the mediation environment, the actors involved, the mediator and the strategies he used among others. In this analysis the study has utilized both primary and secondary data sources.Primary data has been gathered through personal interviews using open ended questionnaires. The sample for the interviews has been purposively selected from person who either were participants, observers or knowlegdeable of the Kenya's post electoral conflict mediation process. Secondary data has been sourced from news papers, electronic media, websites and text books focusing on mediation in general and Kenya's post electoral violent conflict mediation. The adoption of two methodologies has enhanced the richness of the study for primary data has augmented the secondary sources which had not covered all the details of the process. The study is qualitative in nature and this has determined the method of data analysis which has been done qualitatively. The analysis of the post electoral violent conflict mediation process has shown that each phase ofthe mediation process is of critical importance. The phases are inter linked and failure in one phase will inevitably lead to failure in the subsequent phase. Further the study concludes that the mediation process is influenced by multiple factors and hence cannot be explained by one factor let say the mediator or the mediation strategies.Instead the process is contingent on the conflict itself, parties in the conflict, the identity of third parties and the nature and degree of their involvement, the mediator's attributes and his relationship with interested third parties especially those with enough leverage, whether there are rival mediation processes and so on.