2007–2008 Kenyan Crisis

2007–2008 Kenyan Crisis

The 2007–08 Kenyan crisis was a political, economic, and humanitarian crisis that erupted in Kenya after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007. Supporters of Kibaki's opponent, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, alleged electoral manipulation. This was widely confirmed by international observers, perpetrated by both parties in the election.

In part due to the ethnic and geographic diversity of the ODM coalition, no one narrative can explain the reaction of opposition supporters to the announcement of Kibaki's swearing-in. In addition to staging several nonviolent protests, opposition supporters went on a violent rampage in several parts of the country, most noticeably in Odinga's homeland of Nyanza Province and the slums of Nairobi, part of his Langata constituency. Police shot a number of demonstrators, including a few in front of TV news cameras, causing more violence directed toward the police.

Targeted ethnic violence (as opposed to violent protests) escalated and at first was directed mainly against Kikuyu people – the community of which Kibaki is a member – living outside their traditional settlement areas, especially in the Rift Valley Province. This violence peaked with the killing of over 30 unarmed civilians in a church near Eldoret on New Years Day. Tensions in the Rift Valley have caused violence in several previous Kenyan elections, most notably in the 1992 Kenyan Elections. Some of the Kikuyu also engaged in retaliatory violence against groups supportive of Odinga, primarily Luos and Kalenjin, especially in the areas surrounding Nakuru and Naivasha.

In Mombasa, Muslim Kenyans took to the streets to protest the electoral manipulations and air their own grievances, though ethnic tensions played much less of a role in these protests. Looters also struck a number of stores in Mombasa. The slums of Nairobi saw some of the worst violence, some of this ethnically-motivated attacks, some simple outrage at extreme poverty, and some the actions of criminal gangs. The violence continued sporadically for several months, particularly in the Rift Valley.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived in the country about a month after the election, and successfully brought the two sides to the negotiating table. On February 28, 2008, Kibaki and Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement called the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which establishes the office of prime minister and creates a coalition government. The power-sharing Cabinet, headed by Odinga as Prime Minister, was eventually named on April 13, after lengthy negotiations over its composition; it was sworn in on April 17.

Read more about 2007–2008 Kenyan Crisis:  Background, Timeline, Casualties and Displacement, Regional Implications, Reactions, Possible Continuation

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