EISA Kenya: Conflict management


Kenya Electoral Assistance programme

Mapping of hotspot areas

In preparation for implementation of the Kenya Electoral Assistance Programme (KEAP), EISA undertook a conflict mapping of hotspot areas in the country. This was aimed at earmarking the key conflict areas in order to guide the establishment of the Conflict Management Panels (CMPs).The main criterion used to identify the regions was areas known to have previously been affected by political and electoral violence as well as areas known to experience competitive politics. Through the exercise, EISA identified the following regions as the main conflict hotspot areas: Nairobi, Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, and Eldoret.

In August 2016, and following the identification of the hotspot areas, EISA carried out a status update of the regional CMPS in these regions. The CMPs were established in partnership with the IEBC in 2011 and were premised on the need to provide mitigation mechanisms for political and electoral conflicts and related violence. The CMPs were also intended to act as early warning systems for political and electoral related violence. The CMP members were trained and deployed to their respective regions in the run up, during and after the 2013 elections to help mitigate conflict through mediation. The aim of the status update was to determine the status of the CMP members, apprise them on the KEAP as well as discuss modalities of engagement and programme implementation.


Prevention of election related conflict ahead of, during and after elections.

EISA, in partnership with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), convened a workshop on improving efforts to prevent electoral violence in Kenya. Broadly, the workshop provided participants with an opportunity for assessing and improving efforts aimed at prevention of electoral violence in the country in view of the March elections. As a way forward, participants resolved to ensure synergy and effective coordination in order to improve effectiveness in conflict prevention during the elections. It is this resolution that motivated the EISA mediators to work in collaboration with the provincial administrators (charged with regional security) in their respective regions in the course of their deployment.


Conflict Management Panels (CMP) strengthened

In a bid to strengthen and enhance the regional conflict management panels EISA conducted strategic planning and mapping workshops for all the established regional CMPs. This signalled a new phase on EISA's engagement in conflict mitigation ahead of the general elections as it paved the way for deployment of the panellists. The output of the meetings was the development of action plans to guide their work ahead of the elections.

Owing to the threats to peace posed by the heightened political environment ahead of the general elections, EISA deployed CMPs from four regions namely Embu, Nyeri, Kisumu and Nakuru to avert or deal with any arising conflicts. In the course of the deployment, the panellists held introductory meetings with the newly appointed County Commissioners, who were charged with, among other duties, ensuring peace in the counties. The panelists also mapped out the conflict prone areas as well as the situations likely to trigger electoral related conflicts and designed with joint strategies for their resolution, in the respective regions. The panelists also met with various political aspirants in their respective regions requesting them to assist in minimising possible election related conflict by calling for peace and abstaining from remarks that could trigger conflict during their campaigns. By having various meetings with the political aspirants who agreed to hold peaceful campaigns, the panellists, who are resp

While regional panels had been established and were able to play a role in their respective regions, EISA, in partnership with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) identified and trained a panel of national election conflict mediators. The main success of the activity was the selection of high profile Kenyan personalities to serve on the panel. Besides being eminent personalities, the panellists also had a wealth of experience and demonstrable track record in conflict resolution, both in Kenya and globally. These include Maj. Gen (Rtd) Lazaro Sumbeiyo who mediated the Sudan Peace Talks; Prof Abdulgafur Abdulsaidy Chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM); Arch. Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret Catholic Dioceses; Arch. Bishop Zacheus Okoth, Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC); Bishop David Gitari Rtd head of Anglican Church in Kenya; and Tecla Lorupe a renowned Kenyan female athlete and the head of the Tecla Lorupe peace foundation.

Under the SIDA grant, EISA also convened a consultative conflict mediation forum in Kisumu. The intervention was necessitated by incidents of conflict that had been reported in the town and the skirmishes involving two vigilante groups, the China Squad and the American Marines. The Mediation Forum was chaired by Archbishop Bishop David Gitari (a member of the national panellist) and was attended by representatives of the National Panel and the Kisumu CMP's.

During the meeting the two groups identified the causes of their conflict and through mediation, spearheaded by the national panellists, agreed to amicably settle their differences. They accomplished this through coming up with a set of recommendations which they stated would enable them to peacefully coexist. Salient among these was attitudinal change especially in light of the information they had received regarding the roles of all players in prevention of electoral related violence. The forum further appointed representatives from the two groups who were mandated to continue dialogue, alongside the Kisumu CMP, to promote peaceful political activities.


Electoral conflict mediation panels (CMPS) established

EISA, in collaboration with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya (IIEC), successfully launched four regional conflict management panels (CMPs) during 2011, bringing to nine the total number of regional CMPs in the country since EISA first introduced the programme in 2010. Resulting from the launches, 60 panellists were identified to spearhead mediation work in their respective regions. The selected panellists participated in a three-day intensive training workshop on conflict prevention and alternative dispute resolution. Panellists drawn from Eastern (Embu), Central (Nyeri), Nyanza (Kisumu), Western (Kakamega), North Rift Valley (Eldoret) and North Eastern (Garissa) regions were equipped with the requisite skills and expertise needed for mediating and resolving election disputes as well as knowledge of the relevant electoral and constitutional legislation.

EISA deployed Nairobi CMP members to mediate in the hotly contested Kamukunji by-elections. The by-election enabled the panellists to appreciate the actual and practical environment that is often at play during elections. This enabled the panellists to understand the manifestation of conflict prior to, as well as on, the election-day and experience the interaction of the various actors during these two crucial periods of the electoral cycle. In addition, it accorded the panel an opportunity to utilise the acquired dispute resolution skills to resolve the conflicts.

Through mediation the mediators intervened in various incidents including mediating a dispute with rowdy youth between different political parties trying to prevent voters from leaving a voting station. In another situation, the mediator was able to diffuse a potentially conflictual situation between a group of youth and an alleged vote buyer.

Political Party Dispute Tribunal (PPDT) supported

EISA was the main, and continues to be the sole, organisation providing support to the PPDT. Towards enhancing their efficiency, EISA convened an induction workshop as well as a retreat to develop the action plan for the Tribunal. The induction workshop contributed significantly to the capacity building of the PPDT members. Apart from reviewing their mandate, the workshop served to appraise the members on political and electoral conflicts and how they manifest themselves within the context of an election. The retreat resulted in the development of an action plan to guide the work of the Tribunal. The action plan, which addresses issues regarding, among others, resource mobilisation and strategic planning development, will provide a useful guide in achievement of the PPDT objectives. EISA is in the process of conducting a comprehensive strategic planning workshop for the Tribunal to guide its operation for the year 2012-2013.


Launch of Conflict Management Panels

EISA , in collaboration with the IIEC, successfully launched Launch of Conflict Management Panels (CMPs) in five regions of the country. Resulting from the launches, 75 panellists were identified and agreed upon by all stakeholders. The CMPs were put in place as a mechanism for resolving electoral and political conflicts in the run up to the 2010 Referendum and subsequently the 2012 general elections. This is a collaborative programme between EISA and the IIE C with the ownership of the programme located in the IIE C. The regional launch workshops included:

  • Induction training and familiarisation for stakeholders around conflict and mediation.
  • The formation of linkages with key stakeholders regarding the establishment of CMPs. Partnerships were established with the provincial administrations, provincial police and local CSOs.
  • The establishment of structures to facilitate the work of the Panel.
  • Nomination and appointment of representatives to serve in the Conflict Management Panels. Representatives were selected from various stakeholders including eminent persons, key NGOs and CSOs, political parties, women's organisations and youth groups.
  • An introduction to EISA programme activities in Kenya and more broadly in Africa.
Conflict Management Workshop

EISA convened an induction workshop for the IIEC on 28 June 2010. The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Familiarise delegates with the concept of Conflict Management Panels;
  • Present an overview of conflict, especially political and electoral conflict; and
  • Provide the IIEC with a comparative perspective on Conflict Management Panels conducted by EISA in other countries, such as the DRC and South Africa.

Based on discussions with the IIEC, EISA proposes to launch Regional Forums in hotspot areas before the Referendum set for 4 August 2010. The workshop defined hotspots as areas marked by violence based on the previous elections as well as areas likely to experience competitive voting. The concept of CMPs will be launched to multiple stakeholders at these forums, the first of which was held on 7 July in Mombasa, Coast Province. Other areas identified as potential hot spots were Central Rift-Nakuru, Central Eastern-Meru and Nairobi.

Capacity Building for Conflict Mediators

EISA conducted rigorous training for 45 selected conflict mediators drawn from Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru regions. The programme was designed to equip mediators with the requisite skills and expertise needed for mediating and resolving election disputes, as well as knowledge of the relevant electoral and constitutional legislation.