Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance are contesting the country’s general election results in the Supreme Court. Odinga rejected the official results which showed that Uhuru Kenyatta had reclaimed the presidency. In the days following the announcement that Kenyatta had won, opposition supporters attempted to engage in peaceful protests. International and local media reported on clashes between police and residents in Nairobi and Kisumu. Earlier in the year state security forces were also deployed against opposition supporters agitating for reforms to the country’s election commission. But media reports often misrepresent the cyclical unrest in Kenya as a typical response to the announcement of election results. It is true that post-election violence has been a feature of many Kenyan elections, specifically those in 1992, 1997, and 2007. But dismissing post-election violence because it is an expected reaction to the outcome ignores the complexities of Kenya’s political reality.
Recent events represent a disturbing return to the targeted repression of communities in opposition areas by state security forces. The fact that they do this with impunity is often ignored by the international press.
The government-elect has legitimised the actions of the security forces. It claims that their actions were justified because they were responding to criminals, looters and violent protesters.