Civil Society Groups' Peace Activism and Media in Kenya

Authored by: Zacharia Chiliswa

Routledge Handbook of Conflict Response and Leadership in Africa

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367332228
eBook ISBN: 9780429318603
Adobe ISBN:


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On February 28, 2008, nearly two months after the disputed presidential elections results and ensuing violent protests, deaths, massive human displacement, and the destruction of properties, there was palpable and crippling fear and anxiety throughout Kenya of not overcoming the political impasse. When the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in the company of the two political arch-rivals, the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and the opposition leader Raila Odinga, emerged at the president’s office – Harambee House – the attention of most Kenyans and the global audience was fixed on what he was going to say next. “We have a deal”, Mr Annan announced to the eagerly awaiting local and international press corps. Then Mr Annan ushered handshakes and pleasantry exchanges between the two rival political camps. The optics of the camaraderie between the members of Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Mr Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) appeared to produce an aura of hope in the wake of the abrasive campaigns and interethnic violence. Under the African Union (AU) Panel of Eminent Personalities chaired by Kofi Annan, a political settlement between Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga was reached resulting in the formation of a grand coalition government. Besides facilitating the creation of a coalition government, the political settlement, called the National Accord, recommended many other structural and institutional reforms. Under the rubrics of transitional justice – a systematic institutional and structural response to widespread gross human rights violations, including historical injustices. The National Accord opened a new chapter in the politics of Kenya, setting into motion mechanisms that would help tackle new grievances and past grievances communities had suffered. Although the Accord was embraced across the political divide, there was disgruntlement – about the legitimacy of the grand coalition government, the modalities of political power sharing within the coalition government and how to deal with the divisive question of gross human violations and other historical injustices.

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