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Centre of Governance & Human Rights (CGHR)


11th March 2013

Reflections on the Kenyan Elections - A Panel Discussion

Prof. John Lonsdale (Trinity College, Cambridge), Prof. Bruce Berman (Queen's University, Ontario; Smut Visiting Research Fellow), Njoki Wamai (PhD Student, POLIS)

On March 4th 2013, Kenyans voted in the first election under the new 2010 constitution that sought to tackle numerous causes of the post-election violence in 2008. The 2013 presidential election has proven as closely contested and polarising as the controversial 2007 election, generating anxiety among Kenyan voters, neighbouring countries and the international community.

The two leading coalitions at the elections are ‘CORD’ led by Raila Odinga, and ‘Jubilee’ led by Uhuru Kenyatta, who stands accused before the International Criminal Court for fomenting violence in 2008. These two popular coalitions are largely drawing on ethnicity and elite support/dismissal of the ICC to mobilise voters. Despite high levels of polarisation, many Kenyans and observers expect that the reforms and safeguards instituted by the new constitution and implemented by the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) will prevent any electoral crisis.

This Panel Discussion will focus on historical junctures and evolving contemporary events that may have an impact on the outcomes of the 2013 elections. The panel will discuss Kenya’s tumultuous political history and the place of the 2013 elections within it, the interaction between ethnicity and elections in Kenya, and the impact of the 2008 interventions (including the AU-led mediation and ICC indictments) on the 2013 election process and results.


Professor John Lonsdale is a Fellow at Trinity College and an Emeritus Professor of Modern African History. He has been researching into Kenya’s history since 1962.

Professor Bruce Berman is a Professor Emeritus of Political Studies and History, and Director and Principal Investigator of the Ethnicity and Democratic Governance program at Queen’s University, Canada. He currently holds Smuts Visiting Research Fellowship in Commonwealth Studies at the University of Cambridge.

Njoki Wamai is a Gates Cambridge Scholar and an alumnus of the Africa Leadership Centre. She is a doctoral candidate in Politics and International Studies at POLIS . She is currently exploring the impact the Kenyan mediation process in 2008 has had on peacebuilding.

Video from the panel discussion

This event is co-organised by CGHR and the Centre for African Studies.

    kenyan elections poster