NAIROBI – As Kenya approaches its general election on March 4, memories of the bloodshed that marred the controversial 2007 presidential election remain fresh. The vote ended in a standoff between the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, who declared himself the winner, and the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, who dismissed the vote as rigged. The ensuing ethnic clashes claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people, and displaced another 250,000.
The violence ended only after former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan helped to broker a power-sharing agreement in which Kibaki retained the presidency and Odinga became Prime Minister. When the agreement was signed, many Kenyans declared that such politically charged ethnic violence would “never again” consume Kenya. But, less than three months before the next election, few remain confident that such violence will not recur – especially given that Kenya’s government has taken no measures to prevent it.