The ethnification of electoral conflicts in Kenya: Options for positive peace
Kenya has since the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1991 experienced periodic electoral conflicts. In the analysis of these conflicts, however, there is an evolving tendency to perceive their causes as merely, or mainly, manifestations of negative ethnicity. In other words, there is the tendency on the part of the state, and non-state actors, to deliberately ‘ethnify’ extra-ethnic conflicts in the country in a phenomenon herein conceptualised as ethnification. The ethnification of extra-ethnic conflicts has caused the country to continually drift into an electoral-conflict trap. The failure to address substantive extra-ethnic factors which have historical, structural, institutional, legal, and cultural standpoints has constrained the pursuit of positive peace in the country. This paper, therefore, examines the evolving tendency to treat extra-ethnic electoral conflicts from the ethnic-identity premise. The centrality of underlying causes and rationales of electoral conflict that are extra-ethnic is highlighted, and a way forward for the pursuit of positive peace in the country is recommended.
Keywords: conflict, conflict resolution, ethnification, Kenya, peace, peacebuilding