Kenya (1991 – first combat deaths)

Tasneem Jamal Africa

Updated: June 2015

 

The Conflict at a Glance

Who (are the main combatants): Nationally, the largest ethnic groups involved in the conflict are broadly divided into the Bantu, Nilotic and Cushitic people. The largest groups from the Bantu ethnicity include Kikuyu, Luhya and Kalenjin peoples. Internationally, fighting is occurring between the Kenyan Defense Forces and al-Shabaab, based in Somalia.

What (started the conflict): Kenya is involved in two conflicts. The first is internal, arising from historic ethnic differences. The second is both within its borders and within neighboring Somalia, with Kenyan soldiers fighting Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab.

When (has fighting occurred): The modern Kenyan geopolitical landscape saw vast changes in the 20th century, moving from German colonial rule to British, and then gaining independence in 1963. Many Kenyans were displaced by British settlers, especially in the Rift Valley, which has been one cause of the fighting between different ethnic groups in the region. Land laws passed during the colonial times have also been used in elections as a tool for gaining votes and fueling violence between ethnic groups. In 1992 over 2,000 people were killed in communal violence that has varied in intensity every year since.

Where (has the conflict taken place): Ethnic violence within the country takes place mostly within the Rift Valley near the Northern border with Ethiopia, but it has also flared up nation-wide as post-election fighting, the worst of which occurred in 2007-2008 when thousands were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. Outside national borders, the Kenyan military has been fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia since 2011, the first time that Kenyan soldiers fought in a foreign country.

 

Summary
Type of Conflict
Parties to the Conflict
Status of Fighting
Number of Deaths
Political Developments
Background
Arms Sources

Summary

2015 In April 148 people, including 142 students, were killed in an Al-Shabaab attack on Garissa University College (HRW). The Kenyan government responded, seizing assets of alleged Al-Shabaab sympathizers and financiers and conducting a security sweep of suspected supporters of the militant group. In September security forces initiated “Operation Linda Boni” to destroy Al-Shabaab strongholds in the coastal Boni forest and surrounding area. Disputes over land boundaries and cattle continued to be flashpoints for communal violence. (International Crisis Group).

2014 Although conflict apparently decreased this year, al-Shabaab established a deeper presence in Kenya. According to International Crisis Group, there were approximately 570 conflict-related deaths. In April, the government launched counter-terrorism operation Usalama Watch, which resulted in 4,000 arrests in its first week and raised concerns about human rights violations. Communal tensions continued in the north, particularly in Mandera and Wajir. The government instituted the Security Laws Amendment Bill in December amidst criticism. In December 2014, the ICC dropped charges against President Kenyatta. A pilot repatriation program of Somali refugees in Kenya began in December, while Kenya accepted 42,000 asylum seekers from South Sudan.

2013 With an increase in communal fighting causing 200 deaths and a deadly massacre by suspected al-Shabaab militants in a shopping centre resulting in the deaths of 67 civilians, Kenya remained affected by internal and external violence. The country avoided post-election violence following the reelection of President Kenyatta, while the new Kenyan government, along with those of other African states, continued to ignore the International Criminal Court charges against Kenyan leaders for alleged crimes against humanity. A large number of refugees from Somalia in camps and centres remained in Kenya, and both governments agreed upon a refugee support system for those willing to return to Somalia, a move that strengthened ties between the two nations.

2012 The decree of Kenya’s High Court that national elections would be held in March 2013 triggered renewed political jockeying and alliance formation. Security appeared to deteriorate in major cities after a wave of grenade and bomb attacks targeted civilians at shopping malls, restaurants, and religious institutions. The government blamed Somali Islamist militants for an apparent retaliation against Kenyan participation in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). A government-ordered registration process for refugees led to the relocation of thousands to an already overburdened network of camps. Agro-pastoralist clashes over land and water rights claimed many lives in the Tania River Delta.

2011 The year saw political jockeying and alliance formation ahead of 2012 elections, scheduled to be held in either August or December. With two likely presidential candidates accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of involvement in post-election violence in 2007-2008, the actions of the ICC played a role in the political process in 2011. Uhuru Kenyatta (the Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and son of Kenya’s first president) and William Ruto (the former agriculture and Higher Education Minister) have both been named by the ICC as suspected masterminds of the 2007-2008 violence. In October, the Kenyan government for the first time militarized its foreign policy by launching Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Country) in Somalia’s Juba Valley. Post-independence Kenya had never sent its forces to a foreign country to fight. The offensive against the militant Islamic group al-Shabaab appears to have prompted an increase in attacks by al-Shabaab at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya, which saw a massive increase of refugees from Somalia after a severe drought in the Horn of Africa in 2011, the worst in 60 years.

2010 An August referendum, supported by 67 per cent of Kenyans, approved a new constitution that set up a commission to settle land disputes, limited the power of the president, created a Supreme Court and introduced a more comprehensive bill of rights. In December, the International Criminal Court named six Kenyans as masterminds of the worst bloodshed of post-independence Kenya during the 2007 to 2008 post-election violence.

2009 The creation of a tribunal for war crimes was continually stalled by the Kenyan government, leading former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan to hand over names of 10 top officials involved in post-election violence to the International Criminal Court. Violence broke out in rural and northern areas over land and resources, leading to resettlement and ethnic tensions. The UN condemned reports of police abuse, including executions, accusations of torture and intimidation against human rights activists. Killings were carried out between suspected Mungiki gangs, a quasi-religious militia recruited to protect the Kikuyu ethnic group, and villages, with violence leading to displacement and a growing refugee crisis.

2008 Post-election violence killed an estimated 1,500 in the first three months of 2008. Fighting between supporters of President Mwai Kibaki and the Party of National Unity (primarily of Kikuyu ethnicity) and supporters of Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement Party (primarily of Luo and Kalenjin ethnicity) took place in Nairobi and the Rift Valley Province. The February 2008 agreement between Kibaki and Odinga held, and a truth and reconciliation commission was scheduled to deal with those implicated in post-election violence. Clan violence continued throughout 2008, killing at least 200 in Mount Elgon District. Estimates by independent media placed the death toll in the Mount Elgon District upwards of 500. Although post-election violence largely came to an end in March, it reignited old rivalries in the Laikipia District in Rift Valley Province and hastened the re-emergence of the Mungiki sect, an outlawed quasi-religious militia group operating mainly in the Nairobi slums. Fighting over resources such as water continued in rural areas in 2008.

2007 Clan violence was responsible for nearly 200 deaths in 2007. Violence sparked by the December elections killed 1,500. After nearly two months of violent turmoil, a power-sharing deal between re-elected President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga was signed in February 2008 and was expected to be ratified by Kenya’s Parliament in March. The accord, brokered under the leadership of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, divided power between Kibaki and Odinga and brought an end to hostilities. However, the agreement did not address ethnic rivalries that continued to plague prospects for Kenyan stability.

2006 The Kenyan government was shaken to its foundations after the revelation of the Anglo Leasing corruption scandal, which implicated high-ranking politicians, including President Mwai Kibaki—elected on an anti-corruption platform—in a deal that awarded a highly lucrative contract to a company that did not exist. As a result, several cabinet ministers, including the former finance minister, resigned and foreign aid was withheld. Clan violence continued over struggles for land, water and cattle along the northern Kenya-Ethiopia border. Raids by Ugandan and Somali bandits were also reported, as well as clashes between Kenyan tribesmen and Somali refugees. Hostilities resulted in at least 125 civilian deaths.

2005 Inter-communal violence over natural resources, mainly land and water, escalated in northeastern Kenya. More than 150 people were killed, including 70 civilians in a single episode in July.

2004 Inter-communal conflict continued at a reduced level in several parts of Kenya. Clashes again were economic in nature, with land at the forefront.

2003 Inter-communal violence, fuelled mainly by economic interests, continued, especially in the northwest, as Kenyan, Ugandan and Sudanese populations clashed with each other, often in cross-border raids.

2002 Clashes along ethnic lines in several districts of the country killed more than 100. Violence marred presidential elections in December.

2001 Conflict between numerous tribal groups continued through 2001, with an escalation of violence targeting non-combatants. More than 100 people were reported killed in the clashes.

2000 Inter-tribal feuds, cross-border fighting pitting Kenyan tribes against tribes in Uganda and Ethiopia, and mob violence continued this year. At least 100 people were killed by the end of September, down from 1999.

1999 Political and mob violence, police-sanctioned extrajudicial killings and ethnic clashes increased in 1999, with ethnic clashes concentrated in the northern regions of the country. At least 550 people died in the violence, up from the previous year.

1998 Post-election peace and reform aspirations were shattered as politically and economically based ethnic clashes and police-sponsored extrajudicial killings increased throughout 1998. Most clashes took place in Rift Valley Province between members of the President’s ethnic group and rival ethnic groups, though serious fighting also occurred in the North Eastern Province among several groups, including ethnic Somalis and Sudanese.

 

Type of Conflict

Failed State

Parties to the Conflict

  1. Government of Kenya

a. President Kenyatta and the Party of National Unity (PNU): During the December 2007 presidential elections, former President Mwai Kibaki is said to have used an array of illegal vote-tampering methods in order to declare victory against rival opposition leader Raila Odinga. The violence that erupted threatened to further destabilize the country, which was already divided over land disputes and ethnicity. Following the power-sharing agreement signed in early 2008, Kibaki retained his position as President of Kenya and post-election conflict was greatly reduced. Both sides also agreed to an investigation into the 2007 violence by the International Criminal Court. Traditionally, the president has wielded a great deal of power, but the 2010 reform of the constitution decentralized power. President Kenyatta was elected in April 2013 with 50.3 per cent of the vote in a peaceful election.

b. Former prime minister and opposition leader Raila Odinga and the Orange Democratic Movement Party (ODM): After December 2007 presidential elections, opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed that incumbent Mwai Kibaki had tampered with the electoral process, resulting in a fraudulent victory. Odinga refused to accept the results of the election and his supporters engaged in violent clashes with Kibaki’s supporters. After the power-sharing agreement was signed in early 2008, Odinga became prime minister and post-election conflict was greatly reduced. Since much of the strife in Kenya is along ethnic lines, it is important to note that Odinga comes from the second largest tribe, the Luo. In the 2013 election Odinga won 43.4 per cent of the vote, but the lapse of the power-sharing agreement ended his term as prime minister.

c. Kenyan Defence Forces: The Kenyan Defence Forces, carrying out operations both within Kenya and internationally. Internally, the security forces have conducted controversial operations in the Western Provinces which have been subject to criticism by Medecins sans Frontieres and Human Rights Watch. Internationally the Kenyan forces are engaged in what is largely considered a successful campaign against the Al-Shabab in Somalia alongside the African Union.

Ethnic and Religion-Based Armed Groups

2. Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF): Composed largely of a sub-group of the larger Kalenjin ethnic community, the SLDF was formed in 2006 to seek redress for alleged injustices during land distribution in a settlement scheme known as Chebyuk, which pitted two main clans of the Sabaot (Mosop, also known as Ndorobo, and Soy) against each other. The group has been carrying out an increasing number of atrocities against civilians, killing many and stealing livestock, and is reportedly responsible for some 600 deaths in the area since mid-2006. In March 2008, the Kenyan government launched a large-scale military operation targeting the SLDF. Approximately 900 SLDF members were arrested by government forces. The leader of the SLDF, Wycliffe Komon Matakwei, was reportedly killed in May 2008, along with 12 other SLDF combatants. In 2008, reports surfaced of families in the Mount Elgon area being forced to either pay the SLDF or allow their sons to fight for them.

3. Al-Shabaab (“the Youth” in Arabic; the group’s full name is Harakat al-Shabaab or Harakat al-Shabaab Mujahideen, “Movement of Warrior Youths” or “Mujahideen Youth Movement”): Since 2007, al-Shabaab has emerged as the most dominant armed opposition group in neighbouring Somalia. Al-Shabaab was formed in 2004 as the military wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and was further radicalized after the 2006-7 invasion by Ethiopia and the subsequent dissolution of the ICU. Al-Shabaab seeks the establishment of an Islamic State in Somalia based on a strict and rigid version of Wahabbi-Salafi interpretations of sharia law. The group is ideologically aligned with al-Qaeda, and has also expressed support for a global jihad. In February 2010, al-Shabaab leaders publically declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden. In March 2010, Canada added al-Shabaab to its list of banned terrorist organizations. The group is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, and Norway. It is estimated that al-Shabaab has between 5,000 and 9,000 fighters. Reports of foreign recruits from Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Algeria, Europe, and North America have increased in recent years. In late 2010, long-time leader Ahmed Abdi Godane (“Abu Zubeyr”) was replaced as emir/overall commander by Ibrahim Al-Afghani. In late December 2010, after Hizbul Islam suffered a number of military defeats, al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam announced that they would merge, with al-Shabaab effectively taking over the other network of Islamist militant factions. In response to al-Shabaab’s kidnapping of western aid workers and their halting the delivery of aid along the Kenyan border, the Kenyan military entered Somalia in 2011 to launch an ongoing offensive against al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has retaliated with attacks on civilians on buses and in resorts, the deadliest took place in September 2013 at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, killing 72 civilians.

4. The Mungiki Sect: The Mungiki sect is a quasi-religious militia recruited to protect the interests of Kenya’s largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu. The government had largely cracked down on Mungiki prior to the 2007 elections in December. Post-election violence saw the re-emergence of the group, held responsible for the deaths or disappearances of hundreds and possibly thousands from Nairobi slums.

5. Mombasa Republican Council (MRC): Founded in 1999 the MRC emerged as a prominent multi-faith secession movement in the country’s resource-rich coastal region. In October 2012 the group’s leader, Omar Mwamnuadzi, was arrested by Kenyan security forces. The Kenyan government alleged that the group recruited child soldiers and participated in illegal military training.

Various other Kenyan ethnic groups: Kenya is made up of more than 40 ethnic groups. In 2008, heightened violence among these groups was due in part to the post-election crisis. Post-election violence involved mainly the Kikuyu, Luo and Kalenjin. The Turgen and Turkana, pastoral groups, continue to fight the Kikuyu, a farming group, in the Laikipia District. Fighting there also involves the Samburu, Maasai and Pokot tribes. In Mount Elgon, the SLDF has appeared to align itself with the Kalenjin, encouraging violence between the Kalenjin and other tribes. Fighting is often over resources.

Status of Fighting

2015 In response to ongoing militant activity in coastal Lamu county, security forces launched “Operation Linda Boni” on September 11, aiming to dislodge Al-Shabaab elements from the Boni forest and surrounding area. Six forest hideouts were destroyed (International Crisis Group). The Interior Ministry announced a plan to erect barriers along the Kenya-Somalia border to keep Al-Shabaab fighters out of northeast Kenya. Al-Shabaab fighters then targeted a National Youth Service team and its police protection force involved in building a border security fence.

Al-Shabaab continued to target civilians. They attacked Garissa University College in April, killing 142 students (HRW) and in July killed 14 and injured 10 in an attack on a quarry near Kenya’s border with Somalia (International Crisis Group).

Communal violence affected Turkana, Baringo, Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo, and Wajir counties, among others. There was fighting between the Turkana and Samburu, and between the Turkana and Pokot (Global Post).

2014 ACLED reported a decrease in violence. But International Crisis Group reported that al-Shabaab has become more deeply embedded in Kenya, continuing activities in the northeast and on the coast. Media reports indicated that the group expanded its recruitment to other parts of the country. After attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi in March that killed 12 and injured at least eight, the government launched counter-terror operation Usalama Watch. More than 4,000 people were arrested in the first week. In May Sheikh Fuaad Mohamed Khalaf “Shongole”, a leader in al-Shabaab, announced that the group had moved its war to Kenya. On June 15 and 16, more than 60 people were killed in attacks on the town of Mpeketoni and in Poromoko district. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attacks, but President Kenyatta attributed them to local political networks that targeted Kikuyus. Since the start of military operations against al-Shabaab in Somalia in 2011, Kenya has experienced more than 50 gun, grenade, and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, according to IRIN News. On September 21, President Kenyatta declared that Kenyan forces will remain in Somalia until it is stable.

Communal tensions persisted in northern Kenya. In August violence displaced 18,000 households from the town of Rhamu, Mandera North Sub-County. According to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), between January and August approximately 77 people were killed and 95 injured in conflict between Degodia and Garre clans in Mandera. Across the country, 125 people died and 215,479 were internally displaced between January and June, according to UN OCHA. The most affected regions were Mandera and Wajir, but clashes also occurred in Baringo and Nyakach in Kisumu, and in Garissa, Turkana, Samburu, and Moyale in Marsabit. Significant causes for the conflict are resource scarcity, political disagreements, and border disputes.

2013 Despite an increase of government forces in the region, communal fighting between the Borana and Gabra communities along the border with Ethiopia in the Rift Valley continued throughout 2013, killing an estimated 200 civilians  The spring reelection of President Kenyatta occurred amidst fears of a repeat of the post-election violence in 2007 that did not materialize. Kenya continued participation in the African Union (AU) mission in Somalia, committing 4,040 troops to fight against the extremist Islamic group al-Shabaab. This support remained a source of tension as al-Shabaab continued small scale attacks in Kenya’s Northeastern provinces, and large-scale attacks in bigger cities such as Mombasa and Nairobi.

2012 The Kenyan government blamed frequent urban bombings on Somali Islamist militants retaliating against Kenyan participation in AMISOM. Grenade and improvised explosive devices claimed the lives of approximately 100–120 civilians over the course of the year, primarily in the volatile North Eastern Province. Attacks by al-Shabaab in the Dadaab area further compounded the region’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Security appeared to deteriorate in major cities, with a wave of grenade and bomb attacks targeting civilians at shopping malls, restaurants, and religious institutions. Between 85 and 100 government military, paramilitary, and police personnel were killed across the country. In one case, more than 40 police were reportedly killed by suspected cattle raiders in the Suguta Valley. The subsequent arrival of military and paramilitary units triggered widespread displacement by civilians fearing reprisal attacks. Agro-pastoralist violence among rival tribes escalated, with 150–200 killed in a series of raids stemming from land and water rights. The Tania River Delta was particularly volatile, with intensified clashes between the Oromo and Pokomo ethnic groups.

2011 In an unprecedented move, the Kenyan government sent forces into Somalia in October as part of Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Country), bombing and strafing al-Shabaab positions. Though Kenyan forces have entered Somalia before, the maneuvers were usually covert. The government defended the overt offensive against the Somali-based militant group by citing a string of kidnappings of Westerners, despite reports that the kidnappings were the work of Somali bandits and pirates. Al-Shabaab responded with attacks in and around the Dadaab refugee camp, forcing aid agencies to reduce services at the already overwhelmed camp, according to the UN. In 2011, 15 deaths were attributed to al-Shabaab attacks in Kenya, the majority after Kenya’s October offensive.

A severe drought in the Horn of Africa, the worst in 60 years, according to the International Rescue Committee, led to a massive increase of refugees from Somalia into northern Kenya. In July, according to relief organizations, more than 1,000 refugees a day poured across the border to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya’s arid north. The camp, built to contain a maximum of 90,000 people, swelled to more than 450,000 inhabitants in 2011. Al-Shabaab attacks exacerbated the humanitarian crisis at the camp.

In December, more than 20 people were killed and hundreds displaced in tribal clashes originating from disputes over grazing land in the northern villages of Moyale and Isiolo. Later the same month, three children were killed after unexploded ordnance, left by security forces during Operation Okoa Maisha in 2008, went off in the village of Kapisitet.

2010 Isolated political killings marked 2010. In August, six people were killed by a grenade attack in Nairobi during a Christian prayer meeting protesting the draft constitution. Kenyan Church leaders blamed the government for the attack. In November, a police officer on a rampage in Siakago, northeast of Nairobi, killed 10 people. In December, three people were killed and 39 wounded when a bomb exploded at a Nairobi bus station. Somali militant group al-Shabaab was believed responsible.

2009 The UN condemned killings carried out by Kenyan police, especially during post-election violence. Drought sparked clashes over resources between cattle raiders and farmers in remote areas of Kenya. Violence and the lack of security from the government was deepening tribalism and ethnic ties in rural areas.

2008 In post-election violence, the Kikuyu tribe and those aligned with them were fighting Luo and Kalenjin. The largely secretive Kikuyu Mungiki sect stepped up their profile, engaging in both post-election violence and additional violence throughout 2008. In the Laikipia District, fighting between the Turgens who are aligned with the Turkana, and the Kikuyu continued. In the Mount Elgon region, government forces continued their crackdown on the Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF). Both sides were accused of human-rights abuses. According to reports, the SLDF was forcefully recruiting children to fight.

2007 Fighting in the Mount Elgon region over traditional land rights grew more intense despite the presence of security forces. In March 2008, the government announced a large-scale military operation designed to target members of the Sabaot Land Defence Forces (SLDF), reportedly responsible for atrocities against civilians in the region. However, the most troubling development of 2007 was the December presidential election, the results of which engulfed the country in violence from December to March. The banned Mungiki sect was responsible for a number of uprisings, which ended in arbitrary killings by government officials.

2006 Violent inter-clan skirmishes continued in Kenya’s northern provinces near the Ethiopian border as well as with Somali refugees and Ugandan tribesmen. These clashes included Dongiro warriors from Ethiopia who attacked Turkana herdsmen, as well as Boran raiders who assaulted the village of Dukana. The Marsabit District in the north reportedly suffered from Ethopian militia raids. In the southern Samburu District, Pokot tribesmen were responsible for a raid on the Samburu tribe. There were reports of fighting in the Kanyarkwat District, where many locals armed themselves for protection against Sebei and Karamajong raiders from Uganda. Violence erupted in a Kenyan Somali refugee camp in northern Kakuma, where tensions between local Turkana groups and Somali and Sudanese refugees erupted into violent attacks.

2005 Inter-communal violence, mainly over land and water, continued with clashes between the Murule and Garre communities and between the Borana and Gabra communities in northeastern Kenya near the Ethiopian border. On several occasions, government troops clashed with groups of armed attackers, including a large number of cattle raiders from Uganda.

2004 Inter-communal fighting continued over land and cattle rustling, though on a smaller scale than in the past. New problems emerged in the Laikipia District when Masaai attempted to repossess land involved in a contentious 99-year lease signed during the British colonial era.

2003 Inter-communal violence claimed more than 50 lives throughout the year. The violence, which often occurred in the northwestern region of the country, involved Kenyan, Sudanese and Ugandan groups. The presence of foreign groups in Kenya is largely due to continuing conflicts in neighbouring countries.

2002 A number of inter-ethnic conflicts over land, cattle and politics took close to 100 civilian lives in the first nine months of 2002. The December presidential elections followed an outbreak of politically motivated violence throughout the country.

2001 Conflict between tribal groups continued in 2001, with fighting widening to include attacks against villages, women and children—traditionally spared in such raids.

2000 Tribal feuding, cross-border fighting between Kenyan tribes and tribes in neighbouring Uganda and Ethiopia, and mob violence continued during the year. The most serious fighting involved clashes in May between the Borana and Somali ethnic groups in the North Eastern Province over livestock.

1999 Extrajudicial killings by police forces, ethnic clashes and political violence increased in 1999. Government officials arrested and prosecuted a number of police officers for abuses, but no action was taken against most of the police officers who perpetrated heinous crimes. Ethnic clashes continued between Pokot and Marakwet/Keiyo in Trans Nzoia in the northwest, between Borana and Somalis in North Eastern province, between Oromo and Somalis in Eastern Province, between Kuria and Luo in the west, and between Pokot and the Turkana ethnic group in the Turkwell Gorge. There were also clashes between the Njemp and Turkana ethnic groups in the Rift Valley, between members of different Sudanese clans in Kakuma refugee camp, and between the Aulyan and Abduwak clans of the Somali ethnic group over grazing and water rights. Many people were killed as a result of mob violence linked to police brutality and dissatisfaction with the judicial system.

1998 Ethnic-based conflict in 1998 primarily occurred in three major attacks, though there was sporadic fighting throughout the year. In January, armed groups of Kalenjin (President Daniel arap Moi’s ethnic group) attacked ethnic Kikuyu groups, apparently because they voted against Moi in the December elections. Kikuyu groups retaliated by virtually wiping out a Kalenjin community at Naishe, after which Moi publicly called for peace and the violence subsided. In early November, there was a massacre in the remote North Eastern Province village of Bagala, which pitted members of the Boran and Gabra tribes, reinforced by Oromo kinsmen from Ethiopia, against ethnic Degadia clans.

 

Number of Dead and Displaced

Total: The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recorded 9,129 conflict fatalities between 1997 and 2015 (ACLED, All Africa Files, ACLED Version 6 (1997-2015) standard file).

2015 ACLED reported 499 conflict fatalities (ACLED, All Africa Files, ACLED Version 6 (1997-2015) standard file), including 148 in a single attack on Garissa University College (International Crisis Group).

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 7,474 refugees and 3,278 asylum seekers originating from Kenya and 1,231 returned refugees. Kenya hosted 552,272 refugees and 40,341 asylum seekers. Deutsche Welle reported that, in the Rift Valley, as many as 5,000 people were displaced by fighting between the Maasai and Kipsigis communities (Deutsche Welle).

2014 According to International Crisis Group, there were approximately 458 deaths caused by terror attacks, government operations against militants, and intercommunal violence.

Refugees and IDPs: According to UNHCR, there were 8,635 refugees and 2,187 asylum seekers originating from Kenya in July 2014. Kenya hosted 537,021 refugees, 32,751 asylum seekers, and 20,000 stateless persons. Most refugees in Kenya are from Somalia; others are from South Sudan, Ethiopia, and elsewhere.

2013 According to Amnesty International, an estimated 200 people were reported killed during inter-communal fighting throughout the year in the Tana River area. An additional 67 people were killed by suspected al-Shabaab members during a terrorist attack on a wealthy shopping centre in Nairobi in September. Aon Risk Management reported that there were a total of 38 terrorist attacks in Kenya throughout the year.

Refugees: Kenya hosts the largest number of refugees in eastern Africa, which include internally displaced Kenyans and hundreds of thousands of Somalis. According to the UNHCR there were 8,759 Kenyan refugees in other countries in 2013, and 550,506 refugees residing in Kenya, mostly in Dadaab, one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

2012 Estimates suggest between 335 and 420 conflict deaths during the year. Media reports indicated that between 85 and 100 government military, paramilitary, and police personnel were killed across the country including more than 40 police reportedly killed by suspected cattle raiders in the Suguta Valley. Between 100 and 120 civilians were killed by grenade and IED attacks, most in the volatile North Eastern Province. Between 150 and 200 deaths were attributed to tribal violence, notably in the Tania River, Moyale, and Samburu districts.

2011 According to various media reports, between 50 and 60 people were killed this year. Al-Shabaab attacks killed eleven police officers, several militant forces and at least five civilians. In December, tribal clashes over grazing land left 20 people dead and displaced hundreds of families.

2010 According to various reports, between 45 and 100 people died in political or ethnic violence this year. In August, six people were killed by a grenade attack at a rally against the draft constitution in Nairobi. In October, seven people were killed in a stampede at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi. In November, 10 people were killed after a police officer went on a shooting rampage in Siakago, northeast of Nairobi. In late December, three people were killed by a bomb explosion at a bus station in Nairobi. Between January and September, the refugee camps in Dabaab received 34,000 new arrivals, most of them from Somalia.

2009 Media sources reported 151 people killed while the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that violence in pastoral communities killed 354 people; Human Rights Watch reported that Kenyan security forces were responsible for 200 of these deaths.

2008 According to reports, between 1,500 and 1,800 people were killed and 600,000 to 700,000 displaced this year from election violence and ethnic clashes.

2007 By the end of 2007, 200 people were killed in violence over land disputes. Violence stemming from the December elections killed close to 1,500 civilians and displaced 600,000. Human rights groups reported that the government was responsible for thousands of deaths from its crackdown on the Mungiki people.

2006 Violence killed 125 people this year, most civilians. This figure included those killed in inter-clan fighting as well as 14 officials who were killed when their plane crashed 450 kilometres from Nairobi while en route to a peace conference in the north.

2005 At least 180 people, mostly civilians, were killed in several inter-ethnic clashes and fighting between government troops and armed raiders. In July, 76 people were killed in a single attack.

2004 More than 40 people were killed as a result of fighting.

2003 According to independent media sources, more than 50 people were killed in 2003 as a result of inter-communal violence.

2002 According to independent media sources, close to 100 people were killed in the first nine months of 2002.

2001 More than 130 people were killed in 2001.

2000 At least 100 people were killed by the end of September.

1999 At least 550 people were killed in ethnic-based violence, extrajudicial killings and post-election violence.

1998 At least 430 people were killed in ethnic-based violence, extrajudicial killings and post-election violence.

 

Political Developments

2015 On February 23 Kenya’s constitutional court struck down 10 clauses of the Security Laws (Amendment) Act 2014. After the Garissa University College attack, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched a crackdown on suspected Al-Shabaab sympathizers and financiers. The government froze the bank accounts of 86 individuals, firms, and NGOs on April 8. Human Rights Watch claimed that two organizations critical of Kenyan security forces—Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights—were included on the list. The bank accounts of both organizations were frozen and documents and hard drives were seized (Human Rights Watch). (The bank accounts were unfrozen in a November court ruling.) On September 15 a Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights press release reported 120 cases of gross human rights abuse during security force operations in response to the April attacks on Garissa University College. Incidents included 25 extra-judicial killings and 81 forced disappearances (Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, September 15, 2015).

2014 On March 25, refugees residing in cities were requested to report to refugee camps by the interior minister, in response to security threats. More than 4,000 people were arrested in the first week of Operation Usalama Watch, which began in April. Amnesty International raised concerns about “arbitrary arrest, harassment, extortion, ill-treatment, forcible relocation and expulsion” as well as the targeting of Somalis. Some 359 Somali and other nationals, several with refugee status, were deported.The Security Laws (Amendment) Bill 2014 came into effect in December—a move that was contested by some members of Parliament and human rights groups. Among other measures, the bill mandates media restrictions, strengthens the powers of security agencies, and puts a limit on the number of refugees in Kenya. In early December, the International Criminal Court dropped charges against President Kenyatta because of deficient evidence. Human Rights Watch reported incidents of witness intimidation. National Commission for Integration and Cohesion chairman Francis ole Kaparo and the Garissa senator Yusuf Haji were appointed to head peacebuilding efforts in Mandera and Wajir, addressing violence between Degodia and Garre communities.

U.S. President Obama pledged $65-million for the first year of the Security Governance Initiative (SGI), which seeks to enhance the security sectors of Kenya and five other countries in Africa. As part of the Tripartite Agreement between the governments of Kenya and Somalia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a pilot repatriation program for Somali refugees in Kenya began on December 8. The initiative has a target of 10,000 repatriations. By August, Kenya had taken in more than 42,000 asylum seekers from South Sudan.

2013 Significant political change occurred in 2013, with the reelection of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Rutu without post-election violence, as was feared might happen. Both Kenyatta and Rutu refused to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges against them for inciting violence following the 2007 election. Parliament voted to withdraw from the International Criminal Court in September 2013. Key witnesses withdrew in December, significantly weakening the ICC case against the two for crimes against humanity. The Kenyan and Somali Governments signed an agreement with the United Nations in November stating that Somali refugees returning to Somalia will be provided with support, with between 30,000 and 80,000 returning throughout 2013.

2012 Kenya’s High Court set the date for national elections in March 2013. Key politicians formed alliances. Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Stephen Musyoka, and Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula formed the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), while former Minister William Rutu and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta formed the Jubilee Alliance. The International Criminal Court announced that both Rutu and Kenyatta would stand trial in April of 2013 on charges stemming from post-election violence in December 2007. Responding to deteriorating national security, the Kenyan government initiated mandatory refugee registration and resettlement processes in established refugee camps. Reports from Amnesty International alleged abuses of Somali refugees by Kenyan security forces, notably in the Dadaab refugee camp and surrounding areas. Tribal clashes between rival agro-pastoralist groups escalated in a number of regions, notably the Tania River, Moyale, and Samburu districts. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted that Ethiopian Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels were suspected of exacerbating clashes in the Moyale district. The Kenyan government intensified its crackdown on the secessionist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), arresting its leader, Omar Mwamnuadzi. Riots followed the killing of cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed—the country’s fifth high-profile extrajudicial killing of a suspected al-Shabaab supporter. Kenyan human rights groups accused the government of direct involvement.

2011 The year saw political jockeying and alliance formation ahead of 2012 elections, scheduled to be held in either August or December. With two likely presidential candidates accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of involvement in post-election violence in 2007-2008, the actions of the ICC played a role in the political process in 2011. Uhuru Kenyatta (the Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and son of Kenya’s first president) and William Ruto (the former agriculture and Higher Education Minister) have both been named by the ICC as suspected masterminds of the 2007-2008 violence. Shortly after being named suspects late in 2010, Kenyatta (a native Kikuyu), Ruto (a Kalenjin), and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka (a Kamba), formed a political alliance called KKK that morphed into the G7 (a Group of Seven multi-ethnic Kenyan politicians— the remainder are, Eugene Wamalwa, Omingo Magara, Aden Duale and Najib Balala). Kenyatta and Ruto toured the country together in 2011, holding rallies in which they claimed to have been framed by political opponents. Early in 2012, the ICC confirmed charges against four of the six named the previous year, including Kenyatta and Ruto. (Charges were also confirmed against Francis Muthaura and Joshua Sang. Hussein Ali and Henry Kosgey were acquitted.) Immediately after the ICC confirmation, Ruto indicated his impending trial would not deter his decision to run in the upcoming elections. Kenyatta resigned his post as Finance Minister but remained Deputy Prime Minister; as of January 2012, it was not clear whether Kenyatta would abandon his presidential ambitions. Cabinet Minister Muthaura also stepped down.
In October, the Kenyan government for the first time militarized its foreign policy by launching Operation Linda Nchi (Operation Protect the Country) in Somalia’s Juba Valley. Post-independence Kenya has never sent its forces to a foreign country to fight. The offensive against the militant Islamic group al-Shabaab appears to have prompted an increase in attacks by al-Shabaab at the Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya.

2010 In January, the United States suspended $7-million (U.S.) earmarked for free primary schools until fraud allegations were thoroughly investigated. In February, Kenya’s shaky coalition government was threatened when President Mwai Kibaki overturned a decision by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to suspend the Agriculture and Education Ministers for alleged involvement in corruption. In February, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights condemned the government’s expulsion of the Endorois people from their land. An August referendum, supported by 67 per cent of Kenyans, approved a new constitution that limits the power of the president while decentralizing power to other regions. The constitution creates a Supreme Court and introduces a more comprehensive bill of rights. As well, the constitution sets up a commission to settle land disputes. In December, the International Criminal Court (ICC) named six Kenyans as masterminds of the worst bloodshed of post-independence Kenya during the 2007 to 2008 post-election violence. The six came from both the Odinga and Kibaki camps. The Kenyan government did not arrest Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir during his visit to Kenya in August, despite the ICC’s arrest warrant against him for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and despite the fact that Kenya has ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty that underpins the ICC. In December, Kenyan members of Parliament voted overwhelmingly to pull out of the Rome Statute. The United States continued to support Kenya’s police and military in their efforts to combat terrorism, especially in the fight against the Somali-based al-Shabaab militia.

2009 In February, Kenya’s Parliament failed to enact legislation creating a justice tribunal to deal with those implicated in post-election violence in 2008. Talks between Nairobi and the International Criminal Court continued. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, ICC prosecutor, met both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga in November.

2008 The February 2008 agreement retaining Mwai Kibaki in the elected position of President and Raila Odinga as Prime Minister was fragile but continued to hold. In March, three new bodies were formed to look into the 2007 election violence: the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC); the Commission of Inquiry on Post-Election Violence; and the Independent Review Committee on the 2007 Elections. The bodies were set up amid debate on how to deal with those implicated in the post-election violence.

2007 The presidential elections in December sparked violent demonstrations that threatened to destabilize the entire country. The election results declared incumbent Mwai Kibaki the victor amid charges of vote-rigging and tampering, angering supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga. Kibaki further enraged opposition supporters by announcing that the election results would not be overturned. The African Union was unable to bring Kibaki and Odinga together to meet. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stepped in to facilitate peace talks in January 2008 and brokered a power-sharing agreement between the two parties in February. Under the agreement, Kibaki would retain the post of President and Odinga would be Prime Minister. The two parties had agreed to a similar arrangement in 2002, which collapsed after three years. The new agreement contained no mechanisms to address ethnic tensions within the new constitution, scheduled to be drafted later in the year. Kibaki had to agree to an external review of the marred 2007 elections. The government faced the daunting task of repatriating 600,000 displaced by post-election violence.

2006 The Kenyan government spent most of 2006 embroiled in the multimillion-dollar Anglo Leasing corruption scandal. The scandal centred around the awarding of a highly lucrative contract to Anglo Leasing—a company that did not exist. Four high-ranking politicians as well as President Mwai Kibaki, elected on an anti-corruption platform, were implicated in the $600-million (U.S.) scam. Several high-ranking officials, including former finance minister David Mwiraria, education minister George Saitoti and energy minister Kiraitu Murungi, resigned in the wake of the scandal. The World Bank withheld $266.6-million (U.S.) for HIV/AIDS due to transparency issues. The United States denied $2.5-million in aid for the country’s anti-corruption campaign also due to transparency issues. Several administration officials were suspended over the mishandling of relief distribution in northern regions. Government forces were reportedly responsible for a raid on the country’s oldest newspaper and the arrest of three of its editors, an act condemned by Reporters Without Borders. A newly formed political party, the National Rainbow Coalition-Kenya (NARC-Kenya), won the Nakuru Town constituency seat in Rift Valley Province and two other seats in the northern Marsabit District in a by-election. The by-election was held after five MPs were killed in an April plane crash.

2005 Kenyans voted to retain their current constitution, rejecting the proposed changes supported by President Mwai Kibaki but opposed by a faction within his government. The contention centred on the opposition belief that the proposed changes would create stronger presidential powers. In December, the EU pledged humanitarian assistance to victims of ethnic clashes in Kenya’s northeast.

2004 In what observers described as a controversial move, President Mwai Kibaki brought opposition members into his administration as it continued to struggle to produce a workable draft constitution. There was little progress on the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, although the government continued to promise it would be established by the end of the year. A lobby group, the Public Corruption, Ethics and Governance Watch, sued former president Daniel arap Moi on charges of failing to prevent genocide during his tenure.

2003 Mwai Kibaki, leader of the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) was sworn in as Kenya’s third President in December, succeeding Daniel arap Moi. Moi, leader of the Kenyan Africa Union (KANU), held the presidency for 24 years and was prevented by Kenya’s constitution from running for re-election. Upon assuming the presidency, Kibaki promised constitutional reform and the establishment of a truth, justice and reconciliation Commission to investigate crimes committed under previous governments. Political opposition and violence stalled constitutional reform. An additional obstacle facing Kibaki’s government was the death of Vice-President Michael Wamalwa in August. After two alleged al-Qaeda attacks on Israeli targets in Mombasa in November 2002, the relationship between the Kenyan and U.S. governments deepened as Kenya became an ally in the U.S.-led “war on terror”.

2002 In preparation for elections scheduled for December, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission proposed radical changes to the Kenyan constitution that would greatly reduce the President’s power by introducing the post of executive prime minister and a two-chamber parliament. Incumbent President Daniel arap Moi is due to step down. Controversy and violence surrounded his decision to name Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, his preferred successor.

2001 Attempts were made to restore peace between the Pokot and Marakwet communities. Some reports indicated that the Kenyan government and its local representatives were not doing enough to assist in the peace process and were in some ways disruptive.

2000 In April, opposition and religious groups launched a rival constitutional review process in response to a government plan to review the constitution, which would allow President Daniel arap Moi to appoint a Board of Commissioners.

1999 In August, a presidential Commission on Ethnic Clashes, created in 1998, submitted its report on the cause of the ethnic clashes that have plagued the country since 1992. At year’s end, the government had not made the report public, nor did it announce any steps based on the findings.

1998 A December election did not bring the reform and reduction in violence hoped for as ethnic conflicts increased during the year. After a serious attack and retaliation left hundreds dead in February and March, President Daniel arap Moi’s call for calm and dialogue reduced the conflicts to some degree. But no serious peace talks or ceasefire negotiations were attempted this year.

 

Background

Kenya’s ethnic-based conflicts are rooted primarily, but not exclusively, in disputes over land rights, stemming from British colonial policies.

Britain’s East African Protectorate was established in 1895. The Protectorate gave land in the fertile central highlands to European settlers, dispossessing the Kikuyu and others. Some fertile parts of the Rift Valley inhabited by the Maasai and the western highlands inhabited by the Kalenjin were also handed over to European settlers.

Kenya became a British colony in 1920, but Africans were prohibited from direct political participation until 1944, when a few appointed African representatives were permitted to sit in the legislature.

From 1952 to 1959, the Mau Mau insurgency, which took place largely in central Kenya among the Kikuyu, challenged British colonial rule, particularly its land policies. Tens of thousands of Kikuyu died in the fighting or in detention camps. About 600 British were killed. During this period, African participation in the political process increased rapidly. The first direct elections of Africans to the Legislative Council took place in 1957.

Kenya became independent on December 12, 1963. Jomo Kenyatta, an ethnic Kikuyu and head of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), became Kenya’s first president. The minority party, Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU), representing a coalition of small ethnic groups, joined KANU a year later.

At Kenyatta’s death in 1978, Vice-President Daniel arap Moi, a Kalenjin from Rift Valley Province, became president. The country was a de facto one-party state from 1969 until 1982, when KANU made itself the sole legal party in Kenya. In 1991, in response to internal and foreign pressure, Moi restored a multiparty system.

Moi’s opponents claim he exploited factional violence and competition over land and employed ethnic patronage to bolster his own power and that of his supporters, and to discredit the multiparty system.

In 1992, an estimated 2,000 people died and 20,000 were made homeless in ethnic clashes in western Kenya; in 1993, fighting in the Rift Valley between the Kalenjin and Kikuyu killed 1,500 people and displaced 300,000. Foreign observers accused authorities of pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing in the fighting. The violence of ethnic clashes was heightened by the availability and use of small arms, as well as the erosion of traditional tribal power structures.

In 1997, Moi was re-elected president for a fifth five-year term in chaotic and contested elections that maintained divisions between opposition groups. After a serious Kalenjin attack followed by opposition retaliation left hundreds dead in early 1998, Moi called for calm and renewed a peace dialogue, which reduced the conflict to some degree, but did not lead to tangible progress. The 1999 report of a presidential commission on ethnic clashes was not made public.

Mwai Kibaki, running as the candidate of the multiethnic, united opposition group, the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC), defeated KANU candidate Uhuru Kenyatta on an anti-corruption platform in 2002.

Kibaki’s NARC coalition splintered in 2005 over the constitutional review process. Government defectors joined with KANU to form a new opposition coalition, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), which defeated the government’s draft constitution in a popular referendum in November 2005.

In 2006, the government became entangled in what has become known as the Anglo Leasing scandal, which centred on the awarding of a highly lucrative contract to Anglo Leasing—a nonexistent company. Four high-ranking politicians, as well as Kibaki, were implicated in the $600-million (U.S.) scam.

Kibaki’s re-election in December 2007 brought charges of vote-rigging from ODM candidate Raila Odinga and unleashed two months of violence in which as many as 1,500 people died. UN-sponsored talks in late February produced a power-sharing accord that brought Odinga into the government in the restored position of prime minister.

Hundreds of thousands remained in IDP camps after the post-election violence. The economic impact from the election crisis was devastating. Conflict among the pastoralists along the Kenya-Uganda border escalated.

In August 2010 Kenya adopted a new constitution that set up a commission to settle land disputes, limited the power of the president, created a Supreme Court and introduced a more comprehensive bill of rights.

Al-Shabaab and linked groups reportedly established a presence in Kenya c. 2009. Al-Shabaab became increasingly active in Kenya after Kenya’s 2011 military intervention into Somalia. Even though al-Shabaab is considered a Somali group, it extends its appeal to Muslims in other countries as well. In Kenya, Muslims comprise 11 per cent of the population and have historically been marginalized. According to the Presidential Special Action Committee organized in 2007, Muslims in Kenya face institutional discrimination and underdevelopment in areas where the majority of them live. Longstanding grievances of the Muslim community in Kenya generate grassroots support for the al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab elements continued to target civilians, with deadly attacks on the Westgate Shopping Mall in 2013 and Garissa University College in 2015.

Arms Sources

In 2012 Kenya spent $694-million on military expenditures (1.9 per cent of GDP). The defence budget increased to $971-million in 2013 and $1.018-billion in 2014, but then decreased to $942-million in 2015 (figures do not include spending on internal security operations) (2016 The Military Balance, 489). There was concern that post-election violence in 2008 had increased the number of small arms in Kenya. Independent studies reported at least 100,000 illegal arms in circulation, entering Kenya from Uganda’s Karamoja region, South Sudan, and parts of southern Ethiopia.

Past arms suppliers to Kenya included China, France, Jordan, Germany, Russia, South Africa, and Spain. In a joint venture with the Kenyan government, a Belgian weapons supplier constructed a munitions factory in Eldoret to produce bullets. In 2014, Kenya imported arms only from Serbia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Some clans reportedly secure weapons from neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia, while others rely on supplies from government sources. The proliferation of small arms among cattle raiders and villagers has led to an escalation of hostilities. The Kenyan government has accused Somali militants of posing as refugees to smuggle explosives into the country.

The United Nations reported that in 2010, 77 tanks, 15 fighter jets, and more than 40,000 automatic rifles were imported into Kenya without proper notification and approval.

The Kenyan government announced in 2014 that $1-billion (U.S.) would be spent to address military and security needs. Included were the purchase of new military helicopters, development of an Integrated Public Safety Communication and Surveillance System, and hiring 10,000 new police officers. Kenya has only one domestic defence company, the Kenya Ordnance Factories Company, which produces 7.62mm, 5.56mm and 9mm live and blank ammunition.

In 2014, Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri and helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter Southern Africa Limited announced their expansion into Kenya. Their products will be used in part to serve Kenya’s security needs. In May 2014, Kenya and China signed an agreement on aviation cooperation.

Economic Factors

Kenya suffers from extremely high unemployment, high levels of crime, and widespread poverty. Most Kenyans live on less than one dollar a day. Millions in the arid north face recurrent drought. Kenya remains the biggest economy and most influential country in East Africa, but rampant corruption and crime have led to political instability.

There is a dangerous polarization between rich and poor, reflected in the unequal distribution of land ownership. Population growth has led to a scarcity of water and other natural resources. After a 2009 drought destroyed livestock and crops, government officials sold thousands of tons of grain reserves.

Corruption has diminished the public’s confidence in the government and law-enforcement agencies and aggravated marginalization and disenfranchisement. In December 2010, Finance Ministry officials admitted that the Kenyan government loses one-third of its national budget to corruption; government officials take huge amounts of money meant for developing projects. The new constitution and the appointment of Patrick Lumumba as the head of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission in 2010 were intended to tackle widespread corruption. Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Kenya at 136 out of 177 countries. In 2014 it dropped further to 145 out of 175.

In April 2011, after severe droughts, a sharp rise in inflation, and lack of government, hundreds of protestors filled the streets, demanding a reduction of food prices.

Economic strife, political tensions, and ethnic friction dramatically escalated tribal attacks in the Tania River Delta, claiming the lives of between 100 and 200 civilians and police in 2012. Economic tensions were heavily politicized in the lead-up to scheduled national elections.

Ongoing conflict has had a negative economic impact on the country’s coast. In 2013, the government reported an 11-per-cent decrease in the number of tourists and a two-per-cent drop in revenue from 2012. Many tourism jobs were lost and hotels closed. During the 2014 United States-Africa Summit, President Kenyatta stated that travel advisories by some western countries harmed Kenya.

Oil discoveries and large-scale infrastructure projects begun in 2013 in the poorest parts of the country were thought to have exacerbated fighting amongst tribal groups, but also brought hopes of alleviating poverty. According to the World Bank, Kenya’s 2013 GDP growth was 5.7 per cent.

The illicit trade in food stuffs is a source of revenue for many parties. In 2015 Kenyan-based Journalists for Justice alleged that the Kenyan military, Somalia’s Jubaland administration, and al-Shabaab were sharing as much as $400-million a year from smuggling sugar (The Economist online, November 23, 2015).

map: CIA Factbook

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