Letter from Azeem

 Dear Kenyans:


The Kenyan Constitution requires a general election on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. There have been public discussions to move the date from August to December with proponents pointing to fiscal timeline (1 July – 30 June) clashing with an August date because most ministries that support critical election processes will not have been fully funded and that a possible presidential runoff vote may interfere with the national examinations calendar of October and December. Opponents of the election date change have argued for protecting the constitutional provision and that any change would be mired by legal challenges and might drag on to the next elections and still require a referendum to decide, putting the country’s stability at risk.

On August 7, 2017, one day before the election, President Barak Obama, who served as the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and whose father, Barak Obama Sr. was Kenyan, called for calm and acceptance of the election results. The intervention was noted by the media as unprecedented.

Electoral System

The President of Kenya is elected using a modified version of the two round system: to win in the first round, a candidate must receive over 50% of the vote and at least 25% of the vote in a minimum of 24 of the 47 counties.

The 337 members of the National Assembly are elected by two methods; 290 are elected in single-member constituencies by first past the post voting the remaining 47 are reserved for women and are elected from single-member constituencies based on the 47 Countries, also using the first-past-the-post system. The 67 members of the Senate are elected by four methods; 47 are elected in single-member constituencies based on the counties by first-past-the-post voting. Parties are then assigned a share of 16 seats for women, two for youth and two for disabled people based on their seat share.

Pre-Election Violence

William Ruto home siege

On July 29, 2017, Deputy President William Ruto’s house was attacked by a local man armed with a machete. During the siege, the deputy president and his family were not present. The assailant first injured the guard on duty, held him hostage and then killed him. The siege lasted 18 hours before the Kenyan Police Special Forces shot the attacker dead. The motives of the attacker were unknown and members of the public were unaware how a man armed with a machete held the elite police forces at bay for 18 hours.

Msando murder

On July27, 2017, two bodies were found on the outskirts of Nairobi. One of the dead, Christopher Msando, was the head of information, communication, and technology at the independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. He played a major role in developing the new voting system for the election. His body showed apparent marks of torture before he was murdered for unclear reasons. Alongside it was the body of a 21-year-old woman, Maryanne Ngumbu. The FBI and Scotland Yard offered to help in the investigation.

The murder of Msando raised suspicion among the opposition that it was part of a plot by the ruling party to rig the election as it appeared Msando was standing in the way.

Andrew Kipkoech Rono, 58, who was arrested over allegations he sent a threatening message to Msando before he was killed, appeared before High Court judge James Wakiaga.


Supreme Court Decision

On August 28, the Kenya Supreme Court heard Odinga’s arguments for the first time. Permission was granted to allow two agents of both the ruling party and Odinga’s NASA party to audit the IEBC results, though Odinga’s lawyer James Orengo alleged afterwards that the IEBC was denying his team full access to the servers and other equipment that transmitted results from polling stations to the tallying center despite the court allowing “read-only” access.

Closing arguments then concluded on August 29th and it was announced that the court would make a decision on September 1st surrounding the results of the presidential election. It was later announced on August 30th that the IEBC had submitted all result forms for scrutiny to give the Supreme Court a clear picture on how Kenyans voted during the elections.

On 1 September, the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s election victory and ordered that a new presidential election take place within 60 days.


Some Suggestions

According to my (Azeem’s) understanding the institutes of Kenya are not independent.

Because institute can hold and stop these types of violence.

First of all, Kenya must make their institutions independent and strong. The country must only employ election officials who are loyal to the country not those who are only loyal to the Government in power or to the president.

For the development of Kenya the youth can play very important roles.



The youth can be empowered through civic education, training and mentoring to help in the election process with the help of some nonprofit organizations.

Empowerment means creating and supporting an enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others. It can be regarded as an attitudinal, structural, and cultural process whereby young people gain the ability, authority, and confidence to make decisions and implement change in their own lives and the lives of other people, including both youth and adults. In fact, the youth can be considered as empowered when they themselves acknowledge that they have created, or can create, choices in life and are aware of the implications of those choices, make informed decisions freely, take actions based on those decisions, and accept responsibility for the consequences of those actions.

Empowerment is therefore a process that strengthens and activates the capacity of the youth to satisfy their own needs, solve their own problems, and acquire the necessary resources to take control over their lives. Empowering the youth is important because empowerment leads to competence and confidence, which, in turn, are linked to self-esteem and self-actualization. Based on a review of the literature and case studies, there are three factors that can be identified as influencing the accomplishment of empowerment by the youth that are applicable to the Kenyan situation.

These factors, which need to be given serious consideration in Kenya’s policies, programs, and strategies for youth empowerment, are noted below. It is also important to indicate the interrelated and dynamic nature of these factors:

The State shall take measures, including affirmative action programs, to ensure that the youth

Ø  Access relevant education and training

Ø  Have opportunities to associate, be represented and participate in political, social, economic and other spheres of life

Ø  Access employment

Ø  Are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation.



Education is the next important area for engaging the youth and for youth development. In fact, youth access to relevant education and training is also entrenched in the 2010 constitution. Beyond building human capital to raise worker productivity, another institutional function of education and training is to provide young people with what they need to become effective agents of change. In order to find a decent job, for example, Kenyan youth need to develop a range of skills and knowledge that are typically gained through education and training. Moreover, a reduction in youth inequality is determined, to a significant extent, by the quality of education and training that youth receive.

The association between the level of education and training, on the one hand, and opportunity and inclusion, on the other, is statistically significant and that corroborates the fact that better educated and trained people enjoy better access to opportunities than others.

Providing the relevant education and training is a critical factor for youth engagement and development. What the majority of the Kenyan youth need is access to skills training. In other words, what is relevant is not access to formal academic curricula (which is in abundance) but access to acquire appropriate skills to fit the educational background and demand of the majority of the youth as well as the Kenyan job market both now and in the future. Skills-based training is an area that must be scaled up by the government. It has been a neglected area of education and training policy. Noted that the training being provided by the Technical, Industrial, Vocational, Entrepreneurship Training institutions ‘has been hindered by inadequate facilities and inappropriate curriculum, hence most graduates at this level lack appropriate skills.


The final key area of youth engagement and development is employment. Having been sufficiently empowered or not, and having accessed education and training or not, the youth still need to find jobs to actualize their livelihood through to adulthood. In Kenya, youth unemployment is a major development challenge.


Best Regards,

Azeem, Pakistan