Kenya’s opposition wants to split up the country – but secession calls seldom succeed

Kenya’s opposition politicians recently called for degradation Which is the withdrawal of territory and sovereignty from part of an existing state to form a new state. under the leadership of Raila Odinga, who received 48.8% Due to a presidential vote in Kenya’s 2022 election, politicians want the country to split into two republics to create a new state for Kenyans unhappy with President William Ruto’s leadership.

The demand for secession is not a new political phenomenon in Kenya.

Even before the region gained independence from Britain in 1963, some Kenyan Somalis had sought to separate and join neighboring Somalia. And this Mombasa Republican Councilestablished in the 1990s, has called for a independent state For the coastal people, citing their marginalization.

became the opposition party isolation call Kenya after 2007–08 post election violence, These calls were repeated in the run-up to the elections. 2013, Then in 2017, a bill introduced in Parliament proposed the creation of a People’s Republic of Kenya From 40 of the country’s current 47 counties. Geographically, this new republic would retain approximately 87% of Kenya’s population and 97% of its land mass, leaving behind a nation that would not be economically viable.

Separatist movements around the world usually arise from the belief of certain groups within a region or state that they are not able to exercise their rights. self determination, It is their right to determine”their own future, political status and independence”, according to the United Nations.

self determination can external or internalFull independence from other states, or access to political and social rights within a state. The two types are related. When governments fail to guarantee internal self-determination, affected groups may demand secession or external self-determination.

Politicians calling for secession in Kenya argue that some Kenyans have been systematically deprived The right to participate in the country’s government and economy.

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Oppressed groups may seek to form their own independent sovereign states, such as Nigeria’s Biafrans Made between 1967 and 1970. or they may seek to join another independent state, as Somalis of Kenya Did it in 1960.

In my view as a legal scholar and economist who has studied political economy in Africa for close to two decades, any group in Kenya that unilaterally declares independence is unlikely to find support on the continent. Additionally, Kenyan politicians have yet to prove that oppressed groups are systematically denied the right to participate in government and the economy in meaningful ways.

colonial frontiers

African Union has been against secession since it was first established as the Organization of African Unity in 1963,

The organization declined to intervene in the Nigerian Civil War. Biafran secession of 1967Calling it an internal matter. and in Mali, in response to the declaration of an independent state free by the Northern Tuaregs in 2012, the association rejected it saying “null and no value,

union president at the time Jean Pinginsisted on

The fundamental principle of intangibility of borders inherited by African countries at the time of independence.

it resonates Article 4(b) of the Constitutional Act of the African Union. It states that the continental organization will respect the boundaries that existed at the time of independence. The act also calls for protecting the union territorial integrity of its member states. This presents it with a dilemma when it comes to addressing separatist movements.

The answer to this dilemma is for the African Union to establish a legal mechanism to recognize legitimate struggles for secession. These include conflicts that provide a remedy For serious and systematic injustice.

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This was seen in South Sudan 2011, The people of South Sudan have pressed for secession on the argument that since independence 1956Khartoum had systematically marginalized them and denied them the right to pursue their political, economic and social development within a united Sudan.

At the end of a brutal civil war (1985 to 2005), the warring parties signed a peace agreement. It gave the right wing an option pursue self-determination, Sudan allowed The push for independence of South Sudan.

National governments may also establish constitutional procedures that allow aggrieved groups to petition for secession peacefully and constitutionally. it has been done in UK And Canada, such constitutional mechanisms can encourage Victimized groups seek internal rather than external self-determination.

While secession may involve the use of force – as happened in Biafra and South Sudan – it can also be achieved through peaceful means. Scotland’s ongoing bid to become independent Britain There is a case.

Kenya’s Obstacles

Secession by Kenya’s aggrieved groups or people is unlikely to succeed as it faces four major obstacles.

First, as is evident from the African Union constitution actAny move to interfere with the territorial integrity of Kenya is unlikely to be supported by the organization.

Second, it is unlikely that a post-secession state would get UN Security Council approval and then admit two-thirds of the members of the UN General Assembly to the UN. This is largely because the separatists have yet to make a credible case for splitting Kenya into two states.

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Third, as a separation According Kenya’s opposition would create two states, one of which is unlikely to be economically viable. This could lead to civil war.

fourth, the 2010 constitution transferred power from the central government in Nairobi in favor of local communities in 47 regions. This greatly improved the ability of different groups to govern themselves and participate in their own economic, social and cultural development.

Politicians and aggrieved groups need to exercise their right to self-determination through this decentralized governance process. Through this, they can help create a participative, inclusive and growth-oriented government and economy in a united Kenya.

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