Assessments

In Kenya, the Stage Is Set for Another Tumultuous Election Season

Oct 8, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (right) listen to President Uhuru Kenyatta (center) give a speech in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 27, 2019.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto (left) and opposition leader Raila Odinga (right) listen to President Uhuru Kenyatta (center) give a speech in Nairobi, Kenya, on Nov. 27, 2019.

(TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

A growing rift between Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto could break up the ruling Jubilee Party ahead of 2022 elections, raising the risk of ethnic violence that could damage investor confidence in one of Africa’s leading economies. On Oct. 2, the Jubilee Party’s National Management Committee recommended that Ruto be removed from his post after he and his allies stormed the party’s headquarters to try to hold a meeting. A scenario where Kenyatta backs an opposition leader and Ruto is removed from office would likely result in localized levels of violence in the lead-up and aftermath of the ballot. Such violence would likely also remain concentrated in the country's more ethnically-dominated rural areas. But demonstrations and attacks in cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa that result in short-term shutdowns of ports, roads and rail travel cannot be ruled out, as metropolitan areas are also home to all...

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