Kenya Braces for Another Chaotic ElectionIssue 08-07-17 |
Kenya’s upcoming presidential election has been bad for business. People are no longer shopping and buying goods. Consumers are too afraid of violence while business owners fear their shops will be looted. The fear is well-founded: assassinations, intimidation, and gerrymandering have marred previous elections in the East African nation. The memory of an anarchic 2007 vote, and an ensuing killing spree in which at least 1,100 people died, is fresh in the minds of many Kenyans.
This year’s campaign has also been fraught, with preparations behind schedule, the opposition up in arms over balloting procedures, and numerous clashes between rival political parties and the police. The prospect of renewed political turmoil poses further risks to an economy that was one of Africa’s top performers over the past decade, when growth averaged 5.2 percent a year. Now Kenya is contending with a crippling drought and rising government debt. Growth plummeted in the aftermath of the disputed election, to 1.7 percent in 2008 from 7.1 percent the year before. The government expects the economy to grow 5.5 percent in 2017.
Due to fears of electoral fraud, approximately 180,000 personnel from the police, the electoral commission, and other government agencies have been deployed to secure the vote, and the European Union, African Union, and the Commonwealth have sent observers.