Since the restoration of multiparty political competition, Kenya has witnessed three violent elections. However, the 2013 presidential election concluded relatively peacefully and the winning Jubilee Coalition succeeded in uniting the “historically rival” Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities behind its banner. What factors explain these notable developments? Drawing on original interviews with elites as well as relevant secondary sources, this article shows that the birth of a Kikuyu-Kalenjin coalition and the lack of violence in 2013 were not due to Kenyan elites’ commitments to peace. Rather, politicians steered clear of instrumentalizing violence because new institutional arrangements prevented them from doing so. The research also demonstrates that the leaders of Jubilee—Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto—strategically made use of the International Criminal Court indictments against them to consolidate Kikuyu and Kalenjin support behind their coalition. As such, this study shows how international legal interventions can be tactically recast to pursue domestic political ends.


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pp. 48-73
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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