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Following months of political drama, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will be sworn in for his second term in office tomorrow, November 28. Citing procedural failures, the Kenyan Supreme Court nullified results from the first round of presidential elections in August, a decision hailed as a sign of Kenya’s growing democratic maturity. The narrative changed, however, when opposition leader Raila Odinga boycotted the subsequent election by announcing the withdrawal of his candidacy. Kenyatta won the second-round election with 98 percent of the vote amid low turnout and threats to the judiciary and civil society. Kenya now stands at a precarious juncture, with the possibility of a deep political rift further fragmenting the country.
What makes Kenya’s backsliding particularly worrisome is that it’s part of a disturbing regional trend. Democratic progress across Africa has been mixed—Central Africa has always struggled, but in East and West Africa, there have been important