On 4 March, Kenya will elect a new president, National Assembly, senate, county assemblies and governors. It will be the first general elections since December 2007. Those elections incited grave violence after the results of the presidential ballot were disputed, resulting in more than a thousand deaths and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. With regards to the upcoming ballots, most attention has been paid to the presidential elections, in which two frontrunners have emerged: the current PM, Raila Odinga and his deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta and his ally, William Ruto, still face trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over the 2007-08 violence.

Impact on country risk

With the events of 2007-08 in mind, peaceful elections would be an important step forward for politics in Kenya. However, post-election violence cannot be excluded and indeed, during the past year, low-level political violence has already been witnessed in some parts of the country. Locally, tensions could flare up as a result of the outcome of regional elections. National tensions cannot be ruled out either in case the presidential election results in a close run-off between the two main contenders. A presidential run-off, which currently seems most likely as none of the contenders is expected to obtain more than 50% of the votes in the first round, is normally scheduled for early April. As the ICC trials are due to start in the same period (currently scheduled as from April 10), this may incite unrest. However, the ICC has already stated that it may consider delaying the trials. In the – most likely – case that no clear president emerges from the ballot in the first round, political uncertainty in Kenya can thus be expected during the next month or two.

Analyst: The Risk Management Team, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com