Briefing Paper

Reconciling Kenya Opportunities for Constructing a Peaceful and Socially Cohesive Nation

“The violence that erupted in Kenya in late December 2007 and January 2008 following the disputed 2007 presidential election results was one of the most violent and destructive periods in the country’s history. It is estimated that 1,300 lives were lost as
a direct result of the violence and conservative figures estimate that 350,000 people were internally displaced. In addition, there are still Kenyans living outside the country as a direct result of
the post-election violence (PEV). Others remain in exile for fear of persecution. After these events, Kenya’s fate as a country in transition was sealed. It would be incorrect to peg Kenya’s transition and the resulting attempts to deal with the past injustices solely on the events following the 2007 general election. The PEV was the culmination of years of tensions in Kenya around access to state power and the control of national resources – primarily land. What the PEV has exposed, not only to Kenyans but also to the international community at large, are the tragic consequences of deep-rooted ethnic intolerance, corruption and inefficient governance structures. These issues have significantly contributed to ethnic polarisation and physical, emotional and economic scars to the country and its people. Kenyan society has yet to fully address the scars of its history.”