Highs and lows of 2017 that tested Kenya’s resilience

December 31, 2017 1:28 pm
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It is the two elections that threatened to tear the country apart—resulting from the Supreme Court nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August election that was challenged by his bitter rival Raila Odinga who boycotted the repeat conducted in October.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31- Two presidential elections, sluggish economy, road fatalities, terror attacks, prolonged doctors, teachers, and lecturers strike are among the notable events that shaped 2017, a year that goes down as one that tested Kenya’s resilience in the country’s history.

But of all these, it is the two elections that threatened to tear the country apart—resulting from the Supreme Court nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August election that was challenged by his bitter rival Raila Odinga who boycotted the repeat conducted in October.

It is not done yet. 2018 appears to be a politically charged year from the beginning when Odinga plans to be sworn in with his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka—both insisting that they won the August poll.

Attorney General Githu Muigai has warned that such acts amount to treason but Odinga says he is prepared to die if that is what it will take.

“They should stop trying to intimidate me about treason. I am ready to be sworn in and die. We will be sworn-in na wafanye vile wanataka kufanya (let them do whatever they want),” Raila said at the burial ceremony of Francis Nyenze, the Kitui West MP who died of cancer.

With a pro-longed electioneering period, the country witnessed the rise in the numbers of criminal gangs, most of which authorities said had ‘political blessings”.

Here is a look at some of 2017 events;

Official police statistics show an increase in road fatalities in the country this year, the worst having occurred on Sunday morning when 36 people died after a bus collided with a truck at Migaa on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway.
More than 4000 people have been killed in road accidents since January.

-Killing of Msando-

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ICT boss Chris Msando was abducted and murdered by unknown people just days to the August General Election and his body found dumped in Kikuyu before it was taken to the City Mortuary.

The Opposition pointed fingers at state security agents, but this was dismissed by Police Headquarters which said he was murdered by unknown criminals.

-Anti-IEBC demonstrations-

Before the August 8 General Election, Kenya’s opposition called for countrywide demonstrations to push for electoral reforms.

Though peaceful in most cases, the protests would at some point turn out chaotic leading to clashes between demonstrators and police.

Tens of lives were lost during the anti-IEBC demonstrations, many shot by police in Nairobi and Kisumu.

-Closure of Institutions of Higher Learning-

Several public universities were closed for several weeks when lecturers went on strike to demand a higher pay package. This disrupted learning activities in what is likely to affect the academic calendar.

-Cases of arson-

2017 also witnessed a wave of school fires in what was blamed on leadership wrangles and stiff opposition to the new academic curriculum as well as tough measures by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi.

The worst of such cases was on September 2, when 9 Form One students died in a fire at Moi Girls High School, Nairobi.

It would later emerge that the fire was deliberately started by a student who was later arrested and charged.

-Return of Odinga-

After a week’s stay in the United States, Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader returned to the country on November 17.

Political leaders had mobilized supporters to give him a heroic welcome at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, but it did not turn out well.

Security agencies managed to block a majority of the supporters from accessing the airport, leading to violent confrontations that resulted to deaths of more than 15 people on a single day.

All these activities slowed the country’s economy, with countries in the west advising their citizens not to travel to Kenya due to Al Shabaab attacks mainly in towns along the Kenya Somalia border where more than 50 police officers have been killed and many more injured in the attacks.

The attacks also targeted civilians mainly in Lamu and Mandera where several people were killed over a period of time since beginning of 2017.

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