Spatial and Temporal analysis of Electoral violence of the Kenyan Elections 2008


In Kenya, after the 2007 presidential elections, the country was drowned in cycles of intensive violence for two months, resulting in 1200 killed and 100,000 displaced (Brown & Sriram, 2012). Kenya is one of the limited case studies in the literature where satellite images were used to detect the locations of violent incidents. This case study can help us to use spatial analysis to understand the diffusion pattern of electoral violence in Kenya and which approach of the aforementioned diffusion approaches, escalation, relocation and violence legitimacy, is applied.

In the early days of January 2008, lots of reports about the escalation of violence in Kenya were issued by organizationslike the Kenya Red Cross (KRC). With a numerous violence incidents, it was difficult to record each incident with accurate and detailed information like locations and times. To solve this problem UNOSAT produced a series of satellite maps showing the likely locations of electoral violence incidents in the west of Kenya where violence was stirring. The only data were available for creating these maps was the active fire data. As fireforces people to flee and being displaced from their homes. So active fire could be used as an indicator of electoral violence. We must bear in mind that the satellite images were taken between 10:3 am to 1:30pm. This means that there are gaps in the data. As we do not know about the violent incidents that took place at different times.

Five maps were produced covering different parts of the Rift Valley from Nakuru to Kitale, the eastern edge of Nyanza and Western provinces covering the times between 27th of December to 3rd of January. The maps are shown in figures 2.1 and 2.2. The first figure 2.1 shows an aggregate view of all the active fire locations from 27 December 2007 to 3 January 2008. Figure 2.2 shows a chronology to the spread of active fire over the period from 27 Decempter on 3 January.

Figure 2.2 shows how active fire (violence) started at Muhoroni in Nyanza on 27/12/2007 (the election day) and the density was low which means the violence was not extensive. Then on 29/12/2007 the active fire spread to near localities in the district of Nyanza (Kisumu, Kibigori and Kaitui), as well as the close provinces like Equator. On 3/1/2007, after the multiple delays in the vote counting, the violence spread even wider and reached the nearest districts where violence took place in Rongai and Elburgon. Violence also reached further northern provinces.The fire’s density was medium and decreasing while getting away from the violent municipalities. The violence reached its peak on 1/1/2008 covering most of the provinces along the Rift Valley. The violence was so extensive in Plateau and the neighbouring municipalities as well as in Equator and neighbouring municipalities. The fire density in these locations was high and also decreased while getting away from these areas. The violence decreased again on 3/1/2008 as the active fire was shown only in the Nyanza district where it started and the nearest district of Eldoret. The fire density also decreased to the lowest degree.

In a more in depth analysis, we can see that the major waves of violence took place in locations where non-indigenous populations were living and were ethnic groups who supported the oppositions exist. Violence also was concentrated in two types of locations. The first is in larger and smaller towns where there are mix of ethnic groups in the population and where business is concentrated. The second type of towns is where lands are purchased or leased by farmers from the main ethnic groups within the system ofrural settlement schemes (Anderson & Lochery, 2008).

This pattern complies with a combination of the escalation approach and the legitimate violence approach. As we saw that the violence escalated and extended to other provinces and in the same time was still active in the original location which is Nyanza district. Also the violence escalates to localities where there are ethnic conflicts.

Kenya has three of the aforementioned causes or factors that lead to electoral violence which are ethno-nationalism, patronage and weak institutions (Boone, 2011; Kagwanja, 2009). Suasanna Mueller agrees with these factors as the historical and political background of most of African countries, however, she argues that there is another key driver present in the Kenyan case which is the delibierate use of violence for electoral incentives and to maintain power (Mueller, 2008).

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Figure 2.1 (UNOSAT, 2008a)

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Figure 2.2(UNOSAT, 2008b)


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