Photographer: CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenyan Ruling Party Reattempts Primary Elections After Chaos

  • Jubilee Party restarts primary polls that were canceled Friday
  • Chaotic polls reinforcing perception of violent national vote

Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party will try again to select candidates for August elections after abandoning a chaotic process last week that analysts said may be a harbinger of upheaval during the national vote.

The process that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s party began on April 21 will restart Monday after being marred by inadequate ballot papers, violent stand-offs and allegations of rigging, Kenyan newspapers including the Nairobi-based Daily Nation reported. Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement also last week rescheduled its primaries for similar reasons.

Jockeying for political positions in Kenya has increased since the national government began devolving power to county legislatures in 2013. That’s raising tensions at a time when advocacy groups including the Washington-based National Democratic Institute say the political environment is “extremely polarized.” The International Monetary Fund has cut its 2017 growth forecast for Kenya’s $69.2-billion economy to 5.3 percent from 6.1 percent, citing political instability.

A dispute between supporters of rival parties about the outcome of Kenya’s 2007 national vote triggered unrest that left at least 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 to flee their homes. Economic growth in 2008 slowed to 1.7 percent from 7.1 percent the year before.

There will probably be further upheaval going into August, according to Lisa Brown, an analyst at Rand Merchant Bank, a unit of Johannesburg-based FirstRand Ltd.

“It doesn’t bode well,” she said by phone. “It doesn’t comfort a lot of investors who already expect elections to be contentious.”

‘Decisive Action’

The government has noted an increase in violence connected with the party primaries and will take “decisive action” against perpetrators, Interior Secretary Joseph Nkaissery told reporters Monday in the capital, Nairobi.

“Don’t doubt the government’s resolve in regard to the national security of the citizens,” he said, reiterating the president’s warning about rising tensions ahead of the ballot.

Kenyatta, 55, is seeking a second five-year term at the election scheduled for Aug. 8. He will compete against one of five candidates the opposition National Super Alliance is set to announce on April 27.

Kenyan political parties have until May 1 to submit their candidate lists to the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission after a court in Malindi extended the deadline for primary elections, according to Citizen TV.

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