Dorina Bekoe and Stephanie Burchard of the U.S. Institute for Defense Analyses have published in African Affairs an interesting write up of their study of secret mediation processes as an additional tool, along with more conventional election support measures, to seek to prevent election violence in Ghana in the 2016 election.
Well worth your time with lots to think about regarding the interplay of violence prevention, election and other democracy assistance and the other diplomatic and outside involvement with election contests.
The study finds formal secret mediation between the competing camps to have been an important part of a robust and relatively successful violence prevention program.
Andrew J. Franklin’s “Terrorism and the rising cost of Kenya’s war in Somalia,” in The Standard gives a perspective on cost and “mission creep” since the original Operation Linda Nichi incursion of October 2011. Take time to read his assessment that over the course of what is best understood as a war rather than participation in a “peacekeeping mission” Kenya has come to face an insurgency in the border counties that now poses an existential threat to the county such that the priority for Kenyan security needs to be a focus by the KDF on a comprehensive border security initiative and finally implementing the critical domestic security reforms set out in the law since 2010.
Kenyan political leaders had unsuccessfully sought U.S. support for an operation to secure a “Jubaland” buffer region long before the October 2011 action. There were probably a variety of motives to proceed when Linda Nichi went forward, some of which related to security and some of which related to various opportunities and schemes of a more “commercial” nature.
Without a coalition government in place as there was in 2011, President Kenyatta has the power and the accountable responsibility as Commander in Chief to articulate the mission of the KDF and the strategy to be employed, now. Kenyans are clearly less safe than they were three-and-a-half years ago, so continuing to pursue a muddled mission without an obvious strategy seems quite dangerous.
Kenya’s vulnerability to Islamist militant attacks should not be downplayed, as tragically illustrated by the Westgate mall massacre last September. That said, the government’s heavy-handed counterterrorism response is troubling and counterproductive on a number of fronts. First, as warned by the KNCHR and highlighted in the April 3 edition of Africa
Watch, such indiscriminate policies fuel a “cycle of violence” that risks further alienating and radicalizing Kenya’s Somali and Muslim communities. Second, the crackdown undermines President Kenyatta’s recent pledge to overhaul Kenya’s security agencies. As the author has argued elsewhere, Kenya’s previous power-sharing government was able to achieve real, if halting and incomplete, institutional security reform successes, including legislative and constitutional changes.The recent mass arrests and troubling allegations against security forces suggest that the Kenyatta administration is more interested in building up the capacity of the security agencies to fight terrorism—fostering the perception of security—than in consolidating any of Kenya’s fragile institutional gains on security reform.
Dr. Stephanie Burchard has a piece in the current issue of the Institute for Defense Analyses’ Africa Watch entitled “After The Dust Has Settled: Kenya’s 2013 Elections”, noting the unexplained failure of the IEBC to release election results that were required in mid-March until mid-July. The key takeaway:
Unfortunately, after all that has happened since, it is unclear how much respect or trust Kenyans continue to have in their political institutions. Politicians seem wary of Kenya’s political institutions. Raila Odinga promised that he and CORD would boycott future elections until changes within the IEBC take place. Even more troubling, public trust in Kenya’s new institutions appears to be eroding. In early July a national survey conducted by Ipsos Synovate revealed that confidence in Kenya’s new political institutions, including the Supreme Court and the electoral commission, had fallen precipitously over the course of the past few months. In particular, confidence in the IEBC had fallen by 30 percentage points–from a high of 62 percent in February to 32 percent less than five months later.
Bonus reading on the American foreign assistance political and policy process: from the Lugar Center, “Lessons for the Next QDDR” by Diana Ohlbaum and Connie Veillette.