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The 2007–2008 Kenya Post-Election Crisis


The 2007 -2008 Kenya’s post-election crisis arose from the disputed 2007 presidential results. Kenya’s general election which was held on December 27, 2007 was marked with a lot of irregularities. Lack of fairness and transparency in the voting exercise with the associated default tallying procedures created a loophole for result manipulation by Orange Democratic Movement and by the Party of National Unity. International observers did concur with the Kenyan media that the election was flawed by many irregularities. The violence was triggered by the Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman – Samuel Kivuitu, when he declared the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki as the winner of the presidential elections. The Orange Democratic Party’s presidential candidate accused Mwai Kibaki of influencing the presidential results in a bid to retain power, and threatened of mobilizing ODM allies into challenging the purported presidential results.

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With the Kenya’s ethnic culture of voting, the endorsement of the election results by the Electoral Commission of Kenya fuelled ethnic animosity and an adverse political tension. In protest against the verdict of the Electoral commission, ODM supporters staged violent crusades in their major political strongholds. The immediate assumption of power by Mwai Kibaki and the naming of his cabinet heightened the protests all over the country. This increased violence halted business causing the economy to collapse, Citizens were displaced from their dwelling places, resulting to a severe humanitarian crisis. It was estimated that almost two hundred thousand people were displaced and an approximate of one thousand, two hundred people lost their lives (Gettleman 1). In one such incident, 30 innocent Eldoret civilians were killed in the church in which they had taken refuge.

This grievous post –election damage caught the attention of the international community, who in the interest of the political, humanitarian, and business situation did chip in to aid nauseated Kenya. Ghanaian President and African Union Chairman John Kufuor did the initial assessment of the situation, immediately after Kibaki took office. Pressure from international entities mounted with travel ban notifications being issued to several members of parliament and Kenya being at the verge of suffering international sanctions obliged to co-operate with the international community in resolving the crisis. The arrival of former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan (with other African leaders of great influence) did spell the beginning of serious dialogue between the two warring parties, which though marked with short interludes of sporadic mayhems, was to see Kenya realize her peace.

With a fervent willingness from the parties in dispute to enter into negotiations, through the mediation of Kofi Annan; negotiators for both sides were chosen and the road map towards crisis resolution was unveiled. Both short and long term goals were highlighted and the necessary strategies of realizing each was brought to the fore. The political tension was soon contained and a prevailing promising humane atmosphere ensued, reviving the hope of Kenyans. Humanitarian situation was also addressed and eased through the intervention of mobilized international aid. The foundation of the necessary constitutional and judicial reforms was laid; with appropriate and well time framed policies were formulated to address this pivotal revolutionary mechanism for institutional transition. Deep rooted historical injustices such as unjust allocation of land, financial empowerment disparity for various regions, and political dominance by one tribe were to be addressed with time and a proper framework delegating respective commissions to resolve these past injustices was upheld.

Apart from Ghanaian President and African Union Chairman John Kufuor, many other prominent international stakeholders gave Annan’s mediation a hand, including; Jakaya Kikwete- the President of Tanzania and Chairman of the African Union, Condoleezza Rice- the former U.S Secretary of State, Luis Michel- the European Union development commissioner, and Ban Ki-moon – the Current Secretary General of United Nations. The input of these stakeholders (and many others who were pressing – behind the scenes for the realization of peace in Kenya) proved to be of an invaluable worth in awakening the warring parties to focus their commitment towards achieving a long lasting solution to the crisis. Thus having catalyzed the negotiations and providing a clear road map towards striking a consensus, a close evaluative analysis to the progress of the peace talk was ensured.

Development of negotiation theories

Game theory

Game theory was developed in 1944 by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern (Sebenius 1) it was based on the objective of defining human associations and interactions- the cooperative, avoidant, accommodative, collaborative and the competitive situations with a view of establishing the ingredients for compromise. Game theory did unveil the tight connection relating its precise mathematical concepts and prevailing human relations. Much of Game theory is to the praise of its mathematical genius at the expense of actual conflicts and the necessary cooperation evident in human interaction. With the main hypothesis of “equilibrium” solutions as exemplified in the fifty-fifty power sharing deal, game theory falls short in the prescriptive domain of solving negotiation problems.

Statistical decision theory

A critical subset of negotiation situations is the unpredictable events arising from various chance events. Under such uncertain circumstances, the statistical tool of probability is of an invaluable worth in guiding decision making. Raiffa extended this concept of objective probabilities to subjective probabilities which encompass unpredictable events that do not have tangible outcomes. This was exemplified by Kofi Annan’s bold move to facilitate peace dialogue in a very complex and uncertain crisis.

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Decision analysis theory

Put forward by Raiffa in 1968, decision analysis theory provided an effective means of making informed decisions under unpredictable circumstances (Sebenius 1). Basically decision analysis entails a easy differential approach to the problem into a series of workable choices. In this case, uncertainties are keenly assessed and evaluated thus in essence a qualitative situation is analyzed quantitatively. Raiffa’s decision analysis theory is not only descriptive but also prescriptive as it is build upon human response to various events. As Raiffa asserts, “People do not actually make decisions in such a logical, disciplined manner, as economic and game-theoretic models typically assume, but instead wish to do so once they think hard about the problem….” Highlighting the wide rang e of deviation between actual decision making and expected idealized game-theoretic outcome. Later, Raiffa integrated systematic behavioral research into decision analysis coming up with ‘behavioral decision theory.’

Negotiation Analysis Theory

Negotiation analysis theory is aimed at establishing prescriptive and useful advice for negotiators and all the stakeholders for varied dialogue situations. Akin to decision analysis theory, negotiation analysis theory reduces the challenge to constituent components, seeking to establish merging alternatives, inherent interests and possibilities for coalitional consensus. This theory of negotiation analysis was the key which did unlock the Kenyan peace deal- ending weeks of bloody political violence in 2007 – 2008.

Negotiation analysis theory advocates for proper implementation of relevant approaches in addressing deep seated tensions between any warring factions. It is a common trend with this approach not to take anything for granted but rather does concentrate its focus on evaluating possible tactics, strategies and perceptions of

‘Zones of possible agreement.’ Negotiation analysis has thus become an asymmetrical pillar linking prescriptive and descriptive approaches to human interactions. It has brought to the fore the best imaginable advice for what parties ought to do based on empirically grounded assessment of what other parties will really do.


Definition of negotiations

Negotiation is the process of realizing a mutual agreement which is pleasant for various parties. A true negotiation is characterized by noble humanitarian and social virtues such as respect, fairness, transparency, equity and honesty. A ‘fifty- fifty‘situation is the major tenet of a fair negotiated deal. Any given negotiation bears some parties, undergoes the discussion process and produces some results.

Under such conditions as is in my case study – Kenya crisis, a negotiation may be considered to be a dispute or conflict resolution process in which two or more parties settle their grievances either by themselves or through a mediator.

Types of Negotiations

There are varied types of negotiations, here below are but a few of these;

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  1. Business (commercial) negotiations – transacted within the commercial fraternity, which is between corporations, companies, financial institutions and businesses.
  2. Inter-national (governmental) negotiations – between nations.
  3. Intra-governmental negotiations – within one nation, a great percentage of this negotiation is political.
  4. Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) – trade and business oriented, furthering human rights and campaigning for environmental conservation.

Otherwise, negotiations can be described as bilateral or multilateral depending on the number of stakeholders (parties) to the negotiations.

Negotiating Parties

Primarily, every negotiation comprises of negotiating stakeholders. In a conflict resolution negotiation these parties identify amicable solutions through mutual understanding, to pacify and ease the conflict. This is exemplified in my case study by the two warring parties; PNU and ODM and also by their respective presidential candidates.

Other stakeholders, who may not be directly involved in the conflict, are also considered to be part of the negotiating parties because their dispositions, wishes and preferences must be born into consideration in the course of dialogue. Due to the magnitude and sensitivity of the Kenyan crisis, most of the influential stakeholders in the negotiation process were international entities as depicted by the diplomatic aid accorded to the chief mediator of the peace talks.

Planning and Undertaking Negotiations

The success of any negotiation is largely depended on how well the parties did prepare themselves. Prior planning before entering negotiation dialogue not only clarifies ones standing but also boosts ones confidence and hence clear grasp of the negotiation strategy. It enables the parties to fore see beforehand the whole negotiation process, possible alternatives and likely outcomes. It is worth noting the logical flow of any negotiation before I describe the necessary steps of negotiation. The flow of any negotiation process can be considered to constitute three major phases; planning, action and assessment. The planning phase is marked by self awareness of the conflict (situation), in which one chooses the tactics and strategies based on his interests and the anticipated interests of the other party. The negotiation process then ensues, followed by an assessment of the outcomes of the negotiation; whether a consensus has been attained or there may be the need for further negotiations.

Conflict awareness
Needs analysis
Selection of objectives
Selection of strategies
Anticipate other parties interests
Selection of tactics
Conclusion upon consensus
Need for another session.

Phase one Phase two Phase three.


Necessary steps for a successful negotiation

Step one: Problem identification

Before entering into any negotiation, it is important that the parties involved get a clear grasp of the history of the problem, issues of contention, terms and desirable expectations from the negotiation. Initial problem identification exposes all the variables which may arise in the course of the negotiation process, setting up a stage for preliminary consultations. With a comprehensive overview of the negotiation problem the interests and wishes of the counterparts can be foreseen, modifying the flexibility of a compromise beforehand. Problem identification enables the parties involved to simplify the problem by employing a differential approach, in which the problem is broken down into small constituent components for a proficient and a strategically progressive negotiation process.

Step two: Highlighting the interest of the parties

For a compromise to be attained in any negotiation process, the parties involved should not only identify their interests but also the interests of their counterparts. This ultimately leads to flexibility in advancing ones nonnegotiable terms. It does also enhance fairness in the negotiation process, and thus pacify the tensions of the parties in the negotiation process. This diffuses all fears and encourages a substantive degree of mutual cooperation, trust and openness. Herewith, to properly understand the counterparts’ interests there may be the need of having a consultation correspondence with ones counterparts before the actual commencement of negotiations.

Step three: Formulating negotiation strategies and negotiation Agenda

This stage marks the formal commencement of the negotiation process. The negotiators from both sides, with the mediators and the stakeholders identify the tools and the machinery for the negotiation process. They also come up with the negotiation agenda. Drawing the objectives to the underlying issues affecting the agenda is also crucial, in the sense that it progressively addresses the minor components of the agenda steering the negotiation process (MSH 1). In case of standoffs negotiators should be flexible enough to change positions and come up with better proposals, without necessarily altering the final outcome.

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These are some of the concepts which impact negotiation planning positively.

  • Upholding shared interests
  • Having a wide variety of options.
  • Flexibility in setting upper and lower boundaries rather than having a fixed notion of negotiable and nonnegotiable terms.
  • Strategic and devoted inquiry in understanding the problem.
  • Neglect of personal interests in a bid to embrace popular outcome.
  • Setting little attention to the method; as opposed to the authentic negotiation proceedings.

For a fair deal to arise from any negotiation, the parties involved should establish their own priorities and elicit respective favorable outcomes for self and for their counterparts. They should also develop a framework for addressing the situation in the event that the negotiation is not successful. This can be realized by classifying the issues on the bases of their importance in meeting the targeted outcome. (Monning 13)

Step four: Actual negotiation

Due to the diverse range of party interests, negotiations are usually characterized by conflicts. Therefore, the kind of strategy employed in resolving a certain conflict largely depends on the personal dispositions of the parties involved and the complexity of the problem under dispute. Saner noted that human behavioral responses – such as competition, accommodation, collaboration and avoidance can be earnest in conflict management to forge a sustainable compromise (Saner 53).Although a competitive behavior may prove efficient in realizing ones goals, it bars a dynamic approach of accommodating the interests of the counterpart thus marring the fairness of the negotiation. Collaborative parties keep their principal focus in retaining their own interests while adopting a mutual problem solving outlook with each other. In avoidant cases information is withheld until an opportune moment, which may derail the negotiation process or at worst thwart the entire negotiation outcome. Accommodating parties selectively consent to some of the counterparts’ advances while renouncing contravening issues. Accommodative along with compromising disposition are the highest tenets of a fair negotiation.

Therefore, it is apparent that a good negotiator is sensitive and dynamic to adjust and fit in varied negotiation situations, while maintaining his/her focus on the objective. He/she evades disputable arguments and strives to honor their counterparts’ preferences. Most often than not, personal dispositions and emotional attributes deter the normal order of negotiations.

The actual negotiation can be viewed to comprise of four distinct phases; introduction, highlighting party interests, building rapport and conclusion of the actual negotiation (Saner, 2000, p. 21). In the introductory phase, the parties and stakeholders are warmly welcomed and they present their positions for initial overview. Each party’s interests are then highlighted with the sharing of information, exchange of arguments and the stipulation of upper and lower limits in the bargain for each party. This is then followed by the building of a constructive rapport in seeking to resolve the issue of contention, which is realized through an open negotiation of inherent issues of conflict. This is best achieved by building concessions on least important issues, which act as a bridge for further concessions on contentious issues. The outcome of building rapport dictates the success of the actual negotiation process, and may be evaluated on the bases of the effectiveness of the solutions generated.

Conflict resolution at the national level, as in the political crisis in Kenya, necessarily calls for structured coalition synthesis. Coalition targets could be international entities who lend a hand in supporting negotiation processes. In manner therefore, the stakeholders help in brainstorming for possible solutions, providing resources and data for conflict resolution.

Step five: Evaluation

Upon the completion of the negotiation exercise, there is the need of assessing the resultant outcomes, whether they provide an adequate reliable solution to the main conflict or not. Otherwise, proper mechanisms should be put in place to initiate another series of fresh negotiations. It is essential also to have a consistent documentation of the proceedings of the negotiation process. These drafts ensure easy assessment of the outcomes of each negotiation session; highlighting the areas upon which consensus has been reached and pending contentious issues.


On 28th day of February, 2008; through the mediation of Kofi Annan and many other international entities of influence, Kenya realized her peace upon the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act by the two presidential candidates- Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga. Having consented to form a unity government at the negotiation table, a National Accord and Reconciliation Act was drawn stipulating the binding and guiding policies for sustaining the deal.

The National Accord and Reconciliation Act which was to be entrenched in the Constitution created the office of the prime minister of the government of Kenya, with the authority of coordinating and supervising the functions of the government of Kenya, whose candidate was to be an elected member of the National Assembly and the parliamentary leader of largest party in the National Assembly. Thus, the cabinet was to consist of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister, the two deputy prime ministers and the other ministers. The Prime Minister and deputy prime ministers could only be removed if the National Assembly passes a motion of no confidence with a majority vote. The composition of the coalition government was to take into account the portfolio balance, reflecting each party’s relative parliamentary strength. (Reuters, 2008, p. 1)

Mwai Kibaki, PNU’s presidential candidate was reinstated in the office of the president and Raila Odinga; ODM’s presidential candidate took the office of the prime minister. Thus Kenya was accorded the peace it so desperately yearned for; with the alleviation of the political tension and relieving the humanitarian situation.

In this paper, resolution of the 2007 – 2008 Kenya crises has been analyzed as an application of negotiation analysis theory. The history of negotiation theories leading to negotiation analysis has been elucidated, planning for a negotiation which is the key to a successful negotiated dialogue has been highlighted, and the process of negotiation has been explored with a great emphasis being laid on the necessary machineries and strategies contributing to effective negotiation outcomes. The need of building rapport among the negotiation parties and stakeholders has been emphasized. However, it should be realized that the negotiation strategies described above are not absolutes, thus negotiators and stakeholders need to be liberally innovative and flexible in adapting to new uprising negotiation challenges. Negotiators should rise to the occasion in tackling the varied forms of negotiation situations.


Gettleman, Jeffrey. “Kenya News”. Web.

MSH and UNICEF. “The Guide to Managing for Quality”. Web.

Monning, W.W. and Feketekuty, G. “International Trade Negotiation”. Training Manual, Preliminary Draft 5, Instructional Modules 17, Institute for Trade and Commercial Diplomacy, USA.

Reuters. “Text of Kenya power-sharing deal”. Web.

Saner, R. (2000). The Expert Negotiator: Strategy, Tactics, Motivation, Behavior, Leadership, Kluwer Law International, Netherlands.

Sebenius, James. “Negotiation Analysis”. Web.

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