ANALYSIS: Kenyan Chaos Would Have Far-Reaching Consequences; by Andrew KORYBKO.
22.08.2017-Moscow/ Kenyan Chaos Would Have Far-Reaching Consequences
The post-election unrest in Kenya is a topic that not too many people have been paying attention to, but it concerns one of the best-performing and most stable non-resource-dependent economies in Africa. Kenya just held an important election two weeks ago in which incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won a convincing 9% lead over his long-time rival Raila Odinga in a vote that was largely considered free and fair by international observers. However, Odinga, just like he did in 2007 when he narrowly lost by a much closer margin in what the international community at that time considered to be a disputed election, is now trying his luck at another Color Revolution in the hopes that he can force the authorities into making advantageous concessions to him and his party. However, the Kenya of 2017 isn’t the Kenya of 10 years ago in 2007, and the electoral context is markedly different now than it was a decade ago, which makes Odinga’s call for a strike and the protests by his supporters look much less legitimate than they did back then.
The question thus becomes one of why this elderly politician would want to stir up another round of deadly domestic destabilization when he doesn’t have anywhere near as convincing of a case to do so this time around, and while nobody knows the answer for sure, his irresponsible actions could nevertheless negatively impact on China’s investments in the country. Kenya isn’t just East Africa’s most stable economy, it’s also its most promising transit state, and it’s for this reason why it plans to host two Silk Road projects. The first one is the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport corridor, or LAPSSET for short, and the second is the Standard Gauge Railway which will run across the country and ultimately aim to connect Uganda, Rwanda, and potentially even the Congo to East Africa’s largest port of Mombasa. However, if the country is wreaked by another round of ethno-tribal violence, then the projects become less attractive to outside entrepreneurs, and it becomes possible for the aforementioned three countries to reroute their maritime connectivity plans through neighboring Tanzania instead.
Remember, there’s no proof that Odinga is deliberately destabilizing Kenya in order to harm China’s projects, but the end result of his actions are still the same regardless of what’s driving him. Furthermore, the instability inside the country could prompt Al Shabaab terrorists in neighboring Somalia to carry out more attacks against soft targets across the border, which they have a regular history of doing anyhow. If East Africa’s most stable country is thrown into chaos because of political disorder and resurgent terrorist threats, then it’s bound to interfere with China’s two Silk Road projects in one way or another, to say nothing of boosting the chances that unrest could spill across the region and catalyze a domino effect of destabilization elsewhere due to the neighboring countries’ inherent fragility and Hybrid War risks. For now, at least, none of these scenarios are making any significant progress, but if Odinga and his goons continue their provocations, then there’s a chance that everything could quickly spiral out of control and spark a new conflict.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
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