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Kenya’s 2007 Post-Election Tragedy: From Turmoil to Unity

2007 remains to be a dark year for the people of Kenya. What began as a political disagreement quickly escalated to widespread violence, with casualties as young as three months old. This dark chapter in Kenya not only claimed lives but also exposed deep-rooted issues within the political and social fabric of the country.
Animated gif of 2007-2008 kenya

Kenya’s elections have been widely along ethnic lines, and the 2007 elections were not so different. As the election results were announced, allegations of electoral fraud surfaced, triggering outrage and protests across the nation. International observers widely confirmed the allegations. Even the head of the Electoral Commission confirmed that he did not know who had won the elections despite announcing Kibaki as the president. The disputed elections resulted in the loss of 1000 lives and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

Root Causes
The 2007-2008 violence wasn’t just a spontaneous eruption; it was fueled by underlying issues that have been cooking for years. Firstly, it was because voting in Kenya is mainly along ethnic lines and tribes. This case was mainly between Kikuyu people from Kibaki’s tribe and Luos from Raila Odinga’s side along with some Kalenjins. Another cause was the widespread perception that the presidential count was modified in favor of Kibaki. This might have been true since the Electoral Commission Leader, Samuel Kivuitu, confirmed irregularities during the elections. He spoke of a sub-county with a voter turnout of 110%. Other than the causes above and the fact that both Kibaki and Raila were responsible for inciting a war between their supporters, the last reason was the belief that Kikuyus had dominated the country’s political leadership.
GIF: Puzzle pieces coming together to form a map of Kenya, highlighting the ethnic divisions and the role of tribal affiliations in the violence.

Escalating Violence
The aftermath of the disputed elections was a rapid escalation of violence across the country. Communities turned against each other, with reports of targeted attacks, arson, and sexual violence. In the new year 2008, a group of people, including children as young as three years old, were set on fire while hiding in a church in Kiambaa on the outskirts of Eldoret. By January 28, the death toll from the violence was around 1300, with 82 people having been killed by Police. Some of the notable people killed include Lucas Sang, a former Olympic athlete killed in Eldoret, G.G Njuguna; a Politician killed in Molo, Donald Odanga; an international basketball player, and David Kimutai, Mp.
Later in January, the BBC accused the government officials of meeting with the Mungiki militia, which is banned, at the state house to arrange for the protection of the Kikuyu people. The government denied this.
Other people killed included the minority white and Asian Kenyans killed by the Mungiki militia until the government assured them security.

International Response
Alarmed by the scale of violence and its humanitarian effect, the international community called for an end to hostilities. After Kufuor’s failed meditation, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan led a successful mediation and broke a power-sharing between President Kibaki and Opposition Leader Raila Odinga in February 2008. Under the agreement, Kibaki remained president, while Odinga became the newly created position of Prime Minister, sharing executive powers. The deal sought to bring about political stability, address ethnic tensions, and facilitate national reconciliation by creating a government of national unity.
GIF: A globe with hands reaching out, symbolizing the international community's efforts to mediate and bring about a resolution, transitioning to a handshake between Kofi Annan, Kibaki, and Raila Odinga.

The aftermath of the 2007 post-election violence left scars on Kenya, both physical and emotional. This serves as a reminder of the importance of solid and reliable political institutions, a transparent electoral process, and a commitment to addressing the underlying issues that can fuel political unrest. Nations and international communities need to remain strong in the pursuit of peace.
GIF: A mending heart with bandages and a Kenyan flag, symbolizing the nation's recovery and the importance of addressing underlying issues for lasting peace.

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