Guest Editor: Duncan Omanga

One of the most anticipated events in Africa this year is Kenya’s presidential election, which takes place on August 9, 2022. This special issue on the election brings together alumni and fellows of both APN and Next Gen to reflect on some of the most pivotal issues defining the election, especially as they relate to peace, security, and similar issues.

John Mwangi’s article titled “The Return of Peace Messaging and the Path Towards Democratic Consolidation in Kenya” explains the status of peace messaging in the context of fears of electoral violence and also as a response to the threats of possible pre- and post-election violence. Mwangi’s article is an important intervention in a political environment characterized by multiple media networks, disinformation, and threats of mediated hate speech on diverse platforms.

Duncan Omanga’s article “Kenya’s August 9th Presidential Election: The State of the Race, Who Is Ahead and Why” gives an overview of the state of the race, drawing from the country’s most established polling companies, to explain who among the leading presidential candidates is ahead and why. Omanga argues that issues such as choice of running mate, coalition structure, integrity and “history” are likely to determine Kenya’s next president.

Muema Wambua’s article titled “Strengthening Kenya’s Infrastructure for Peace Towards 2022 Elections” offers important insights into some of the key actors involved in reconciliation and peacebuilding ahead of the elections. The article looks at the role played by Inter-Governmental Organizations, faith-based organizations (FBOs), women-based organizations, business organizations, and advocacy groups that attempt to lay the groundwork for structural and institutional frameworks that help in strengthening Kenya’s peacebuilding infrastructure.

Nicodemus Minde’s article looks at the central contradictions that define this election; a situation where, on one hand, the leading opposition candidate Raila Odinga appears to enjoy the privilege of incumbency (and the support of the outgoing president), and on the other, the sitting Deputy President is essentially running against the establishment. Minde’s article offers insights into some of the strategies that the leading candidates have adopted to mobilize support and set the agenda.

Finally, Linnet Hamasi looks at the all-important aspect of political parties in the context of Kenya’s democratization. In her article titled “Political Parties, Democracy and the 2022 Kenyan Elections,” Linnet argues that, despite a progressive constitution, Kenya’s political parties lack an ideological orientation and are constituted around personalities and the corresponding ethnicities.

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