A disputed election in December 2007 led to outbreaks of spontaneous violence, organised attacks by militias, and a violent crackdown by security forces in Kenya.1 With the prospect of a civil war becoming increasingly likely, Kenyan citizens mobilised to monitor the violence while international organisations took action to facilitate the peaceful resolution of the crisis. Recognising the potential for armed conflict to emerge from the disputed election, five Kenyans met the day after the polls to discuss how to prevent such an outcome.2 They acted rapidly to mobilise a network of volunteers from across Kenyan society, which they named Concerned Citizens for Peace (CCP), and began broadcasting their appeals for violence to be avoided. On 9 January 2008, CCP published the Citizens’ Agenda for Peace, which outlined strategies for ending the crisis, including the formation of a power-sharing coalition government. Other groups within the network mobilised prominent personalities and the religious community to voice their opposition to violence and provide their time, resources, and good offices to facilitate dialogue.3 The CCP later became a key actor in the peace process and played a pivotal role in resolving the crisis.
At the diplomatic level, the African Union (AU) provided a mandate for a diplomatic intervention to help resolve the crisis and dispatched its Panel of Eminent Personalities (led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan) to mediate the peace process.4 Within a week of the Panel’s arrival, the parties to the dispute agreed to enter into dialogue and appointed representatives for the negotiations. On 1 February, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon arrived in Nairobi to offer his support to the peace process. Two weeks later, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived to declare US support for the process.5 With mounting diplomatic pressure to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, negotiations culminated on 28 February 2008 with the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act, which provided the framework for the formation of a power-sharing government (as outlined in the Citizen’s Agenda for Peace).6 Following the agreement, the Government of National Unity was formed. Although subsequent Kenyan elections were held without similar levels of violence, local analysts highlight the need for the preventive measures that were successful in 2008 to become permanent and embedded.7