Kenya looking to halt election violence

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Kenya should create more senior political posts including a prime minister and increase payments to regional governments to end cyclical election violence, a government report said.

The report, which also recommended cutting government spending, was drawn up by a commission formed following reconciliation between President Uhuru Kenyatta and rival Raila Odinga after a national election in which 100 people, mostly protesters, were killed in a national election in 2017.

Critics see the findings as window dressing designed to senior officials with access to resources, rather than a serious attempt to tackle graft that has hollowed out social services such as health and education.

Kenyan election campaigns are often fought by ethnically-based alliances. Voting shows ethnic patterns, as does the political violence that follows.

“A winner take-all political system sharpened ethnic competition for the presidency,” the report said. “People want one of their own as president as resources go with the presidency.”

To combat the problem, the president should appoint a prime minister from the party with most lawmakers in parliament, the report said. Kenya’s government is led by the president and the country does not have a prime minister.

The report said county governments, responsible for early education, healthcare and some infrastructure, should receive at least 35% of national revenue compared to 15% now.

A 2010 constitution devolved some powers and funding to 47 newly created counties in an attempt to prevent election violence. County governments struggle to fulfil their responsibilities, because of corruption and of lack of funds.

The report also proposed the runner-up of the presidential election become the official leader of the opposition, a new post.

“MUDDLED, INCOHERENT”

Government failed to meet revenue collection targets and borrowed heavily even though Kenya has the region’s richest economy.

Prominent anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo was scornful of the report.

“It’s a muddled incoherent document full of tribal sinecures,” Githongo said.



“It’s a rather cynical vacuous document offered up by an elite that raided national coffers to the point of fiscal distress – yet the document makes no acknowledgement of that.”