Democratic transition and conflicts in Kenya: the case of the 2007 general elections
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Since the end of the Cold War, the dominant international strategy for promoting peace has been through the use of democracy. Proponents of democracy posit that democratic accountability lowers incentives for rebellion and conflict in general. This strategy is founded on the rationale that by making governments more accountable, then citizens would have less cause to resort to violence or opposition against the government. This argument is consistent with the liberal ideals espoused by democratic peace theorists that democracy tends to perpetuate peace. A system based on democratic values would guarantee justice, equality and liberty for the people and decrease the number of conflicts within the state. Kenya's transition to democracy is viewed in the same perspective; as an expansion of the political space to allow multiparty democracy to take root. Whilst political elections are a critical component to this process, events that occurred in the aftermath of Kenya's 2007 general elections run parallel to the ideals espoused by democracy. Kenya's transition to democracy, significantly characterized by political party competition and individuals' quest for power, has along the way been dampened by the occurrence of pre- and post-election violent conflicts. The 2007 general election was therefore no exception to this trend, previously witnessed in 1992 and 1997. This paper examines some of the factors that underlie "democratic conflict" in Kenya.