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Kenya’s mission to Haiti hits early roadblock

It’s been barely a week since the UN approved Kenya’s proposal to lead a police force to quash Haiti’s gangs – and the wheels are already coming off.

Kenya’s high court on Monday temporarily froze the deployment, citing a lawsuit by a local politician who says President William Ruto’s approval of the plan was unconstitutional. The government has to respond to the lawsuit this week but won’t get a full hearing until Oct. 24.

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Kenya's President William Ruto, flanked by African leaders, addresses the media after the close of the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi.

Reuters

African leaders call for global carbon taxes

One of the big questions hanging over the historic African Climate Summit in Nairobi this week was: Where’s the money going to come from? After all, switching to sustainable energy sources and coping with the worst effects of climate change is expensive, and while African nations suffer disproportionately from the risks — droughts, conflicts over scarce resources, irregular migration — the continent receives just 12% of global financing to tackle the problem.

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Riot police disperse supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga in Nairobi.

REUTERS/Brian Otieno

As Kenyans protest, their politicians play chicken

For two weeks, Kenya's major cities have been hit by anti-government protests that have since turned violent. Security forces have tear-gassed demonstrators in the capital, Nairobi, while pro-government mobs ransacked former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s farm and businesses shut their doors for fear of looting.

With no end in sight, the next round of rallies is scheduled for Thursday.

Despite the institutional gains made over the last decade, the specter of previous episodes of political violence hangs heavy in Kenya. So, what’s going on?

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Supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga throw stones at riot cops in Nairobi.

REUTERS/John Muchucha

What We’re Watching: Kenyan protest politics, twice the Ma in China, SNP names new leader

Anti-government protests escalate in Kenya

On Monday, hundreds of protesters stormed a controversial farm owned by Kenya’s former President Uhuru Kenyatta. The rioters stole livestock, cut down trees, and then set the land on fire.

The motive likely has something to do with the ongoing protests against the government of President William Ruto captained by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who narrowly lost the 2022 election to Ruto, Kenyatta’s ex-VP. (The members of this political threesome have all worked with each other in the past in Kenya, where elite business and politics are about as tight as can be.)

This behavior is nothing new for Odinga. While the protests are outwardly about the rising cost of living, Eurasia Group analyst Connor Vasey says that the opposition is just “taking his politics to the streets,” using inflation and other grievances as a “lightning rod to ensure turnout”. And while he is officially trying to overturn Ruto’s victory, Vasey believes that what Odinga really wants is an unofficial executive role in government.

From here, we can expect a test of political willpower. Odinga is threatening more rallies, while Ruto says he’ll continue to deploy the security forces against the protesters. The president hopes that if his rival doesn’t get his political concessions soon, popular support for his mobilization will subside.

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A man scuffles with the security officials before the result of Kenya's presidential election is announced in Nairobi.

REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

What We’re Watching: Kenyan election jitters, Ukraine hits Wagner, Israel strikes near Russian bases

Kenya's new president is … ?

Deputy President William Ruto won Kenya's presidential election with 50.5% of the vote, the electoral commission declared Monday. Still, the process was very messy: authorities initially delayed the announcement amid clashes at the national counting center and accusations of vote rigging from Ruto's rival Raila Odinga. What’s more, four out of the commission's seven members refused to endorse the result over vague fraud claims. So, what happens now? Odinga, who represents the country’s dynastic politics, might contest the result in court, as he did five years ago, when the Supreme Court found so many logistical errors in the presidential election that it forced a rerun. Also, in 2007 more than 1,200 Kenyans were killed following a similarly disputed vote. (Both Ruto and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta were then taken before the International Criminal Court for inciting violence, but charges against both were later dropped.) All eyes are now on the 77-year-old Odinga, in his fifth and presumably last run for the presidency. Will he risk more unrest and perhaps violence to win at all costs? Such uncertainty doesn't bode well for East Africa's most vibrant democracy. This election “started off as the most transparent and ends up in farce," tweeted political cartoonist Patrick Gathara.

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Cricket fans, with their faces painted in the Indian and Pakistani national flag colors, ahead of a match between the two countries.

REUTERS/Amit Dave

What We’re Watching: Partition 75th anniversary, Kenyan vote count, US-China in Southeast Asia

India & Pakistan turn 75

This year’s Aug. 15 Diamond Jubilee of Partition, when the British Raj split into India and Pakistan, is a complicated affair. India has gained more from independence in 1947 than Pakistan: earlier this summer, the Indian economy crossed the $3.3 trillion mark and officially overtook the UK to become the world’s fifth-largest — a nice touch to celebrate 75 years of independence from its colonial master. But India’s democratic credentials remain under threat by the rise of Hindu nationalism. However, Pakistan’s experiments after Partition — proxy wars, civil war, martial law, and Islamism — brought much suffering to its people. Today, the country is at the verge of another financial crisis and negotiating its 23rd IMF bailout, as well as in talks with its own version of the Taliban. Unfortunately, a growing nuclear arsenal is the only equalizer for the political and economic imbalance between the two countries. But there is still hope yet. After years of making zero progress, India and Pakistan are now involved in a backchannel dialogue, which may bring some normalcy between the old enemies. That, and the cricket, of course: Pakistan has won more games overall against its arch-rival, but never beaten India in a World Cup match.

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Paige Fusco

Kenya’s presidential “choice” is 2 flavors of continuity

Kenyans go to the polls Tuesday to elect a successor to term-limited President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s stepping down after 10 years in East Africa’s economic hub. But their choice is limited to one between Kenyatta’s longtime enemy-turned-ally, or the president’s own VP, who’s running against Kenyatta’s record (and therefore his own).

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Election banners of Kenya's presidential hopefuls.

REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenya’s two-and-a-half presidential horse race

On Aug. 9, Kenya’s 22 million registered voters will go the polls to pick a successor to the outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is barred from reelection by term limits. They will also select new national- and county-level lawmakers and county governors. For the presidential contest, Kenyans are presented with a batch of familiar faces to choose from. Yet even by the standards of the country’s ultra-transactional, unpredictable politics, this year’s electoral playing field is an unusual one. We spoke with Eurasia Group analyst Connor Vasey to learn more.

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