high-stakes hearing

Kenya: How the Appeal Court could shape the 2022 election 

By Christine Mungai

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Posted on August 3, 2021 13:20

This month, the Appeal Court in Nairobi is to rule on whether President Uhuru Kenyatta’s reform plan is constitutional – a decision that could sway the outcome of national elections in a year’s time. Kenya’s elite politicians, including former prime minister Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta on one side, and current Vice President William Ruto on the other, are hoping the court will give them the advantage.

The Judges are to assess the High Court’s declaration in May that the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) – an elaborate plan billed to end “winner takes all” ethnic politics – is unconstitutional. This follows two deadly bouts of election violence, in 2007-2008 and 2017, in which most of the country’s political elite played a role.

This latest row over the BBI points to schisms within the ruling class, according to historian Dr. Ngala Chome: “Over the past thirty years, the story of Kenyan politics is about elites trying to figure out the rules of the game and also how to evade them because they don’t trust each other.”

He describes the elite as one whose power and dominance has never been fully consolidated and is now rapidly fragmenting. “The disagreement is actually both on the formal aspects of governance but also on how to share the spoils.”

And this, argues Dr. Chome, is adding to

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