Tanzanian and Ugandan pressure to postpone and renegotiate a trade agreement with the European Union is prevailing, causing Kenya to soon lose its preferential access to EU markets and necessitating a set of bilateral trade treaties.
Kenya’s opposition is likely to lack sufficient political support and funds to maintain a broad defiance movement, which will reduce the risk of further violence; however, an economic boycott and further judicial challenges to the elections process are likely to continue to disrupt economic activity and undermine the credibility of the incoming administration.
Kenya’s opposition is now again likely to make fresh judicial challenges to invalidate the 26 October re-run election, while continuing a campaign of civil disobedience; yet such efforts may not be sufficient to render President Kenyatta’s victory as illegitimate.
The opposition’s boycott of the presidential election re-run has undermined the credibility of the upcoming vote, which is likely to be marked by outbreaks of localised and sporadic unrest; yet, the incumbent seems determined to push ahead regardless and is seeking parliamentary and judicial validation of his expected victory.
The withdrawal of the opposition from the run-off vote seems to have eased the incumbent’s path to a third term, but the political uncertainty and lack of precedent or legal provision have moved the country on course to a constitutional crisis with an increased probability for a third election, though marginally lower risk of violent unrest.
With positions on Kenya’s run-off election hardening on either side of the political divide, the electoral process is being shaken up and the probability of further election delays and political violence is increasing.
As Kenya heads towards a decisive re-run presidential election in less than five weeks, battleground counties will face a greater threat from voter intimidation tactics; meanwhile the economy is slowing and inflation spiking as the political crisis prevents policy makers from intervening in the economy or to push through much-needed amendments to banking sector legislation.
Failure to agree on operating procedures for the presidential election re-run and a fall-out over responsibility for August’s post-election violence will push Kenya closer to a constitutional crisis over the next few months and increase the probability of an outbreak of more violent protests than witnessed following last month’s elections, while stalling almost all economic activity in the meantime.
As Africa moves into 2018, emerging champions of investment in francophone West Africa and Anglophone East Africa will remain key sources of economic growth on the continent; yet, underlying socio-economic grievances will steer usually business-friendly governments into a more nationalist and authoritarian direction that will begin to limit the sustainability of their success.
The Supreme Court ruling to nullify last month’s elections is a potential game-changer that has stunned the Kenyan political system and reinvigorated the opposition. Despite overturning perceptions of the opposition leader as a perennial political loser and giving credence to long-time opposition concerns over electoral manipulation, a re-run election is still too close to call at this stage.
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