Thursday, February 21, 2013
CIPI Director participates in “Kenya Decides” panel at the Brookings Institution
On Wednesday, February 20, Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Distinguished Service Professor within Carnegie Mellon University’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Heinz College, participated in a panel discussion on the 2013 presidential elections in Kenya at the Brooking Institution. Kenyans will go the polls on March 4 to elect a President and local level officials in the first contest following the December 2007 elections and subsequent violence that gripped the country.
During her remarks, Frazer told the audience that she is excited about the upcoming elections in Kenya, particularly as the nation is holding these elections under new institutions and a new constitution. She pointed out the December 2007 elections themselves were conducted peacefully, noting problems arose afterwards in the failure of institutions when a clear winner was not identified. Importantly, she noted, the candidates have all signed a code of conduct for this election, and understand the necessity to commit to non-violence and accept the outcome.
On a recent trip to Kenya in February, Frazer saw how engaged the citizens were in the electoral process, highlighting the increased consciousness on the part of the government and civil society about preventing the occurrence and spread of violence.
“You hear some dis ease,” Frazer offered, “but that dis ease creates vigilance, an ownership about insuring that the public does what is necessary to prevent the violence.”
Frazer, who co-edited the recently published Preventing Electoral Violence in Africa, points to the steadfastness of the Kenyan people to avoid a repeat of 2008 as the key to mitigating post-election violence this time around.
“The consciousness and vigilance of the communities themselves will help to arrest any type of national sweeping violence that took place in 2008,” she said.
Frazer participated not only as an Africa expert, but as the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs who was credited for her efforts to resolve the post-election crisis in which more than 1000 people were killed and thousands more were displaced from their homes in 2008. She was invited to reflect on U.S. government and international community interventions in Kenya following the post-election crisis that arose following the December 2007 presidential contests and to offer insights on the impact that has on the 2013 contest.
The program was convened and hosted by Dr. Mwangi Kimenyi, Senior Fellow and Director of the Africa Growth Initiative at The Brookings Institution. Kimenyi and Frazer were joined on the panel by Dr. Karuti Kanyinga, Professor and Associate Director of the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi. In the 90 minute discussion moderated by Vincent Makori, host of Voice of America’s Africa In Focus program, the participants gave their expert opinions on the pre-election climate in Kenya, the role of the new institutions and new constitution under which the contest is being conducted, as well as the impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC) charges pending against two of the candidates. Members of the CIPI team attended the standing-room only discussion and participated in the event by tweeting the salient discussion points to engage the online audience following via webcast.
For more information about CIPI’s work on preventing electoral violence, including the CIPI Electoral Violence Lecture Series, please visit CIPI at www.cmu.edu/cipi or follow CIPI on Twitter: @cmuCIPI.