A corruption scandal threatens to tear apart the fragile coalition government, prompting fear of a return to the ethnic violence that killed 1,300 and displaced hundreds of thousands after the disputed elections of December 2007.
Johannesburg, South Africa
At issue is the simple question of who is in charge, and whether the shaky, bickering coalition government will hold together long enough to pass a new constitution that will make such political crises a thing of the past. If the government falls apart, the consequences could be severe, including a return of the ethnic violence that killed 1,300 and displaced hundreds of thousands after the elections of December 2007.
“This is the biggest test for the coalition government,” says Wafula Okumu, a researcher on East Africa for the Institute for Security Studies in Tshwane (Pretoria), South Africa. “This coalition government was always intended to be a transitional government, and it is not viable for the future.” But if the government falls apart now, he adds, before Kenya’s parliament creates a new constitution and new system for credible elections, the country could descend into “another round of violence.”
Long considered the most stable, most functional country in East Africa – with a prosperous agricultural sector, a multiparty democracy with a vibrant free press, and with a port and highway and rail system that supplies most of its neighbors with food and fuel – Kenya has fast turned into a country that seems perpetually on the brink of political collapse.