In March 2011, Kenya entered the conflict in Somalia when the government decided to support militias linked to the Somali transitional government, despite the fact that these militias were already known for human rights abuses. In July, the Islamic al-Shabaab militia responded again when it attacked a Kenyan border patrol in Liboi. According to Countryaah data, the meeting lasted several hours and involved several hundred men. Few days earlier, al-Shabaab had taken charge of a terrorist attack in Uganda that cost 74 killed. In October, the conflict was further aggravated as Kenyan forces invaded al-Shabaab controlled areas in Somalia after Somalis kidnapped 2 Spaniards working for Doctors Without Borders in a refugee camp in Dadaab. Joining the invasion force were soldiers from Ethiopia, France and the United States. Along with Ethiopian troops, Kenyan soldiers and warplanes fought al-Shabaab militia in 2012. Kenya’s so-called Linda Nchi (Protect the Fatherland) operation stretched until June 2012. Kenya and Ethiopia jointly succeeded in retaking al-Shabaab, but the movement was not crushed and Somalia’s fundamental problems were unresolved.
At the same time, the refugee situation developed dramatically. The Kenyan authorities already had a practice of illegally sending Somali refugees back to Somalia, which meant that Somalis often had to enter the country illegally. The Kenyan authorities have long delayed the opening of two new camps – Ifo Extension and Kambios – and instead proposed opening camps inside Somalia. Some of the international refugee authorities advised against the tighter security situation. When Ifo Extension and Kambios finally opened in late 2011, the 3 existing camps housed 400,000 refugees, despite being built for 90,000.
According to thesciencetutor, Uhuru Kenyatta won the presidential election in March 2013 with 50.5% of the vote. Raila Odinga got 43.7%. The turnout was 85.9%. Odinga objected to the election results and cited a number of irregularities, but the Supreme Court unanimously confirmed the result on March 30. Uhuru Kenyatta was the son of the country’s first president Jomo Kenyatta.
At the same time as the presidential election, parliamentary elections were held. Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition became the largest in the National Assembly with 167 seats out of the Assembly’s 167. Odinga’s CORD coalition got 141. To the Senate, Jubilee and CORD received 30 and 28, respectively, of the 67 seats.
Kenyatta initiated several major development projects: at Olkaria, a large geothermal power plant was completed, which was completed in November 2014. It delivered 140MW. Together with leaders from the other East African countries, he initiated a high-speed train project to connect southern Sudan with Rwanda through Keya and Uganda. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2018. Furthermore, Kenyatta stated that all Kenyan undergraduates should be provided with their own laptop computer. However, this project was canceled by the Supreme Court, which found errors in the bidding process.
Kenyatta’s first trip abroad after his inauguration as president went in August 2013 to Russia and China. It was seen as both a protest against the ICC’s trial against him and an expression of China’s increasing commitment. China was already the country’s second largest trading partner and declared its readiness to contribute to the financing of the high-speed rail project and a large dam construction. China has since been the largest contributor to the country’s development projects.
In revenge for Kenya’s offensive against al-Shabaab in 2011-12, a group of al-Shabaab partisans in September 2013 attacked the luxurious Westgate shopping center in Nairobi. The attack and siege of the center took 3 days before the partisans were defeated. 67 were then killed (including 4 partisans) and 175 wounded. Westgate was owned by Israeli moneyers and Israeli special forces participated in the fight against the partisans. Subsequently, almost all stores in the center were looted by Kenyan soldiers, but only 2 were convicted of looting.
The following year, in June 2014, al-Shabaab over several days attacked the area around Mpeketoni, killing over 60.
Uhuru Kenyatta was one of the Kenyan ICC in 2010 issued arrest warrant against. In October 2013, in a speech he criticized the AU ICC for being a tool of colonial powers in disrepair. The ICC itself postponed the case against Kenyatta until early 2014, when the defense had asked for more time. In October 2014, Kenyatta himself traveled to The Hague to attend the trial. He thus became the first acting head of state to appear in an ICC courtroom. He was not fully functioning, however. Kenyatta technically resigned as president during the three days he was in The Hague, so it was not Kenyan president who was brought to justice, but private Kenyatta. He emphasized that he had traveled to The Hague as a private person and not as president, so that the case would not affect the presidency or Kenya as a nation. Kenyatta was not questioned in court, but subsequently dismissed the charges against journalists. In December 2014, the prosecution abandoned the case, citing the Kenyan government’s refusal to disclose important evidence in the case. Kenyatta himself stated that he “felt cleansed”.
Although Kenya itself had serious security problems due to the conflict in Somalia, the country nonetheless contributed to the resolution of conflict in neighboring countries. In December 2013, a peace agreement was negotiated in place between the M23 rebel group and the central government of the Democratic Republic of Congo. And in November 2014, Kenya participated in the peace process in South Sudan.
In December 2014, Kenya passed a draconian terror law that drastically worsened legal security and human rights in the country. Police were given the right to detain terror suspects for up to 1 year without asking them for a judge. The period was previously 90 days. The penalties were extended and the police were given extended powers for telephone interception. Journalists could be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison for “undermining terrorist investigations or security operations”. A large number of national and international human rights organizations criticized the new law, and in a rare joint opinion, the United States, Britain, Germany and France criticized the law for being too far-reaching.
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The far-reaching terrorist law and al-Shabaab’s continued attack inside Kenya led to a rapid deterioration of the human rights situation throughout 2015. Hundreds of people disappeared or executed. NGOs – especially those documenting human rights violations – have been accused by authorities of violating tax law or supporting terror. The NGOs were threatened with deregistration of the country’s NGO Council. Unregistering means that they are illegal.