• Fifth Anniversary of Westgate Mall Attack: Fighting Al-Shabaab in Africa

    September 21, 2013, started out like any other day at the Westgate mall. Shoppers in search of deals strolled unaware that their lives would soon be changed forever. At midday, heavily armed militants lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately turned the upscale shopping center in Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi, into a war zone. Security forces, caught off guard and woefully unprepared, struggled to rescue hundreds of shoppers and hunt down the assailants. By the end of a four-day siege—the worst attack on Kenyan soil since the 1998 US Embassy bombing by al Qaeda—sixty-seven people were dead and more than two hundred wounded. Al-Shabaab, a Somalia-based terrorist group that has pledged allegiance to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack.

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  • Pham Quoted in Daily Nation on Uhuru White House Visit

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  • Hruby in Axios: Trump–Kenyatta Meeting an Opportunity for Kenya to Court Investment

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  • 20 Years After the Embassy Bombings: The Long War in Africa

    It has been twenty years since that morning of August 7, 1998, when suicide bombers detonated, almost simultaneously, trucks laden with explosives outside the United States embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The attacks, the first claimed by al-Qaeda against US targets, left 224 people dead, including a dozen Americans, and around 5,000 wounded. While the bombings took place eight years to the day after US troops arrived in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait—Osama bin Laden took offense at the presence of American forces in the land of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina—they also opened in Africa what would become a major front in what only came to be recognized in the years after 9/11 as the “long war” against jihadist militancy.

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  • Pham Joins VOA to Discuss South Sudan, Kenya, DRC, and South Africa

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  • Africa Rising? Kenya Extends the Continent’s Losing Streak

    For decades, Africa was portrayed by the international community as the hopeless continent. Then, as African countries staged a takeover of the world’s fastest-growing economies list in the early 2000s, the narrative shifted to “Africa rising.” It was eventually noticed that not all of Africa was rising. In fact, if anything, Africa was splitting in two, with only an elite set of countries barreling off to participate in the global economy, leaving the rest stuck in the same old quagmire of conflict and poverty. Thus, a narrative of African “winners and losers” emerged.

    The violence surrounding the presidential election rerun in Kenya on October 26 contributes to a different narrative, in which one of Africa’s longtime “winners” faces destabilizing struggles that may reverberate throughout the continent.

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  • Negotiating Democracy and Security in Kenya

    On Monday, October 16, the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, in collaboration with the International Republican Institute (IRI), hosted Ambassador Martin Kimani, director of Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre and special envoy for countering violent extremism, and Dr. Korir Sing’Oei, legal adviser in the executive office of the deputy president of Kenya, for a private roundtable discussion on the security situation in Kenya amid its unprecedented and ongoing electoral crisis.

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  • The Kenyan Elections: Too Soon to Relax

    Though incumbent Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has won the 2017 presidential election, the country remains on edge due to allegations of voter fraud by his opponent, Raila Odinga, which could plunge the country into post-election violence.

    In 2007, a horrific spasm of post-election violence swept across Kenya when Odinga, who has made four bids for the presidency, contested his defeat, claiming the vote was rigged. Every few years since then, Africans and Africanists abroad have watched the approach of elections in Kenya with dread. Taken off guard by the violence that occurred in 2007, and then over-pessimistic about the next elections that occurred in 2013, the international community seems unable to correctly predict whether significant bloodshed will occur, turning every Kenyan election into a nail-biting event. This year’s elections have upheld that pattern.

    According to the official results of the election, announced August 11, Kenyatta secured 54.27 percent of votes, while Odinga won 44.74 percent.  

    Even before the final result was announced, Odinga’s opposition party announced that it would reject the results of the August 8 election if he did not win. Despite pressure from the international community, he has not yet conceded, claiming the votes were manipulated and urging supporters to stay home from work in protest. Odinga has provided no evidence for this claim – but he may not have to. Though the Western nations and international observers denied it at the time, the 2007 election was certainly rigged, and so the current denials by the same groups of officials are likely to ring hollow to Odinga's supporters. Amid the controversy surrounding election results and allegations of inaccuracies, post-election violence is a looming threat with historical precedents.

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  • Bruton Joins VOA to Discuss the Future of Democracy in Africa

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  • Kenya’s Fake News Problem

    Fake news has reared its ugly head in elections again—this time in Kenya. As East Africa’s most tech-savvy country went to the polls on August 8, its citizens were inundated with fake news that colored the campaign season and now threatens hard-won gains to prevent post-election violence.

    Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his primary challenger, Raila Odinga, maintained large followings throughout the campaign season, and went to the polls with a razor-thin margin of popular support between them. As of August 10, Kenyatta claimed a strong lead, though Odinga casts doubt on those numbers.

    An overwhelming majority of Kenyans encountered inaccurate news about both candidates during the run-up to the elections, one recent poll found, and nearly all Kenyans surveyed reported that the inaccuracies were deliberate.

    In light of Kenya’s history, the aftermath of the country’s elections is arguably more important than the contest itself—in 2007, violence erupted after the results were announced, continuing for nearly two months and leading to more than 1,100 deaths. Now, the waiting begins, and early reports bear a concerning likeness to 2007: at least three people were killed by police amid opposition protests across the country.

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