Kenya’s Political Truce Holds, Shifting the Political Landscape

Kenya’s Political Truce Holds, Shifting the Political Landscape
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, left, and opposition leader Raila Odinga, right, at Harambee House in Nairobi, March 9, 2018 (AP photo by Brian Inganga).

The agreement that helped stave off a political crisis following the 2017 presidential election has also recast politics in Kenya. The future is looking no less fraught than the past.

This time last year, Kenya was recovering from a bitter presidential election that descended into a constitutional crisis between two longtime political adversaries. After an initial ballot was annulled by the Supreme Court for irregularities, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won a repeat election that opposition leader and perennial presidential candidate Raila Odinga boycotted. Amid rising tensions, Odinga rejected the outcome and subsequently proclaimed himself the “people’s president” in an unofficial swearing-in ceremony.

But with memories still fresh of violence that followed Kenya’s contested 2007 election, when more than 1,000 people died, Kenyatta and Odinga abruptly shifted course. In a meeting at Harambee House, the president’s office in Nairobi, the two shook hands and agreed to a truce that watchers anxiously hoped would lead to a new political realignment for East Africa’s largest economy.

One year later, the agreement has continued to hold. A rebalancing of politics in Kenya seems to be underway as the country already begins to look toward the next election in 2022. “I don’t think Kenya actually had any breathing space between the previous protracted, confusing and violent electoral cycle and the upcoming one, which may be even more decisive and more hotly contested than the previous two or three electoral cycles,” says Robert Besseling, executive director of the risk analysis firm Exx Africa.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review