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February 23, 2019

Why there may be no violence in the Rift Valley

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

I think there probably will be no violence in the Rift Valley this time around, primarily because the two communities that tend to fight in this region, or even in Nakuru County, are the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin. But now we have the ruling Jubilee Coalition, which is essentially a regime of the very same Kikuyu and Kalenjin, under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto.

If anything happens to fracture the unity within this coalition, then I think there would be a likelihood of violence. But if the coalition remains united as there is every possibility that it will  then there is unlikely to be any violence, because the other communities in this area do not constitute a force that could easily engage in violence. In fact, when there is tension, the smaller communities tend to move out of this area during election time.

So peace in this area will depend a lot on whether the political alliance between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin will hold. If it holds, we can be confident that there will be no violence. And if it does not, then anything could happen. But I do hope the price of this peace and this coalition will not be a surrender of democracy. At times we have what is called “negotiated democracy”.

In this case, this is what got the two communities to share positions that were being vied for, right from governors to the MCAs, especially the top posts.  The idea was that the governor would come from one community; the deputy governor would come from the other; and it ended up being what is sometimes called a “suit” lineup, where a party would have its candidate go in irrespective of their individual merit, merely because he was part of that “suit”; and the ‘suit” was a negotiated one.

So whereas a “suit” vote may have its advantages, the only problem is when it is being bought at the price of democracy. In Nakuru, for example, we had a situation in which people ended up feeling that their devolution funds had not been spent properly. And so their expectation of the fruits of devolution are such that they may not be keen on any “suit” voting, if it leads to the wrong leaders being in charge.

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