The farce and fiasco that marred Kenya’s election will prove costly and damaging to the whole region
Kenya’s political crisis will cast a long shadow over neighbouring states this year as prospects for its speedy resolution recede (see Box). The confrontation between rival presidential candidates Mwai Kibaki
and Raila Odinga
, against a backdrop of widespread electoral fraud and communal violence claiming over 500 lives, sends the worst possible signals about accountability and stability in East Africa and beyond. The whole region may pay for this crisis in 2008 as it turns Kenya from regional peacemaker and host of refugees into a contested state from where its hounded citizens flee into neighbouring countries for their own protection. Most immediately, the crisis shatters its neighbours’ economic plans. Finance Minister Amos Kimunya
conceded that Kenya may have lost as much as US$1 billion in the post-election violence and business closures. The losses incurred by adjacent countries are mounting, too. The suspension of operations at Mombasa port blocks fuel and basic commodities for delivery beyond Kenya to Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan, Eastern Congo and Uganda. January export earnings will be equally badly hit. Many of the tourists missing from Kenya’s coast and game-parks would have gone on to mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar; cautious tour operators do not distinguish one East African state from another.
Both sides in Kenya’s election stand-off are looking into the abyss and a few politicians are preparing to jump. Without serious efforts now to resolve the impasse between Mwai Kib...
Along the axis with Asia, Africa’s Indian Ocean states will all see economic revivals in 2008 although the politics may be bumpy in at least two of them.