NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya witnessed several twists in its
foreign relations, from its strained relations with Somalia to
plans to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the
year 2016 that is coming to an end.
At home, medics
strike, formation of the Jubilee party and capping of bank
interest rates also left complicated legacies the East African
nation will carry forward into its new year.
Kenya began 2016 on a sad note after reportedly over 100
soldiers were killed at a camp in El-Adde in southern Somalia by
the militant group Al-Shabaab.
The assault was the deadliest attack on Kenya Defence Forces
(KDF), which work under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM),
by extremists since the country’s troops went into Somalia in
The immediate response from Kenya, even as critics called for
withdrawal of the soldiers from the country, was increased
retaliatory attacks against the terror group in Somalia.
However, a broader strategy, according to analysts, has
unfolded over the months, which included closing the Dadaab camp
that is hosting close to 600,000 refugees from Somalia.
The government announced in May that it would close the
world’s biggest refugee camp by November to dismantle Al-Shabaab
networks in the country.
The deadline, however, was later pushed to May next year.
Al-Shabaab, however, remains a big threat to the East
Africa’s biggest economy, even as Kenya this year managed to
keep the group’s attacks outside the capital Nairobi.
Security analysts observed that the group has changed tack to
focus on destroying communication masts in Northern Kenya, where
most of their attacks took place this year.
A dozen of the communication equipments have been destroyed
since June by the militants as observers say the group may be
planning a major assault on Kenya.
With residents not being able to communicate due to
destruction of masts, it may be hard for police to get
intelligence reports from locals and help may be difficult to
come in case of attack, analysts have noted.
Last week, police authorities in Nairobi issued a warning of
possible terror attack during the festive season, singling out
places with high concentration of people as potential targets,
including beaches and places of worship.
LOVE-HATE RELATION WITH
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT:
Kenya’s love-hate relation with the International Criminal
Court (ICC) continued in 2016.
The institution in April declared the trial of Kenya’s Deputy
President William Ruto and his co-accused journalist Joshua Sang
a mistrial, effectively ending all the Kenyan cases at the
Prior to that, a case against President Uhuru Kenyatta
collapsed in 2014.
The cases prompted the government to renew a push for
withdrawal from the Rome Statute to end the country’s
relationship with the court, which African countries have
accused of unfairly targeting their leaders.
Gambia pulled out of the court in October, with Burundi and
South Africa working on the departure in what analysts feared
would spark mass exodus of African countries.
MARITIME DISPUTE WITH SOMALIA:
Kenya’s long-time brotherly relationship with Somalia was
challenged this year when the two countries in September engaged
in a legal fight at the International Court of Justice over the
maritime delimitation of the Indian Ocean.
Somalia wanted the ocean’s boundaries redrawn, making Kenya a
landlocked state, and claimed at least five oil-rich blocks.
Kenya, on the other hand, accused Somalia of ignoring a
memorandum of understanding on negotiating the boundary dispute
as it suspended all explorations in the disputed sea.
The dispute, which remains unresolved, strained relations
between the two countries.
In September, Somalia banned miraa from Kenya without giving
reasons, which was lifted following the intervention of Kenyan
President Uhuru Kenyatta.
OLYMPICS GLORY AND SCANDAL:
Kenyans won big in the Rio Olympics and completed the games
at position 15 globally, topping in Africa in its best Olympics
The outing, however, was marred with several scandals,
including theft of athletes’ kits, mismanagement of athletes,
expulsion of some officials from Brazil and embezzlement of
money, which led to prosecution of several officials of the
Following the scandal, the National Olympics Committee of
Kenya (NOCK) was disbanded and an eight-member interim committee
was named to oversee the team’s affairs.
Sports analysts have commended the government for the terse
action, noting that the theft in the sports body had run for so
long without being addressed.
CAPPING INTEREST RATES:
Kenya sent shockwaves in the financial markets in September
when it introduced a law to limit commercial bank’s interest
The law capped interest rates at 4 percent above the Central
Bank rate of 10 per cent, cutting rates of some banks by half,
as it was applied to older loans and to those offered through
Before the law, lending charges stood at an average of 19 per
cent, according to the Central Bank.
The financial institution, on the contrary, offered customers
a maximum of a meager 1.5 percent yield on their savings.
Proponents of the law noted that a low interest rate regime
was socially beneficial as it protected consumers against
usurious lending practices and exploitation.
"Bank should stop intimidating Kenyans that capping interest
rates would make credit expensive," said MP Jude Njomo, who
sponsored the bill in Parliament.
One of the consequence of the new law, however, was not
massive lending to the public, as banks shifted to lending to
the government through Treasury bills and bonds at the debt
market to make up for low returns expected.
According to observers, effects of the law on banks would be
felt fully next year, as the law was operationalized in October.
PRESIDENT GETS NEW PARTY:
Among Kenya’s biggest political events this year was
Kenyatta’s launch of a new party Jubilee, on which he would seek
re-election in next year’s polls.
About 12 small parties agreed to dissolve to form the Jubilee
Party in October, changing Kenya’s political landscape as the
president is headed to the election in a formidable outfit.
"We have in the past fallen prey to divisions based on
ethnicity and religion to serve the interest of a few. Ethnic
differences in Africa become political differences, with poverty
and hatred being the consequences," Kenyatta said during the
Following the move, Kenya now has two major political outfits
namely Jubilee and Cord, an alliance of small parties that forms
the opposition under ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Analysts have noted that in the long run, the bigger parties’
domination in politics could stifle democracy and kill smaller
parties or independent candidacy.
Smaller parties, for many years, have been the biggest
beneficiaries of fallout in bigger parties by some candidates
defecting once they lose nominations.
But this now would no longer be the case as candidates are
barred from decamping last-minute to other parties.
HEALTH WORKERS’ STRIKE:
Kenya witnessed several workers’ strike this year, but none
is as devastating as the one in December, when some 5,000 health
workers boycotted work to push the government to implement an
agreement on salary rise signed in 2013.
While the nurses called off their strike some 10 days later,
the doctors’ boycott, which has been blamed for death of several
patients, is still ongoing.
The strike has forced hundreds of desperate patients to turn
to more expansive private health facilities and self-medication.
The government has accused the health workers of insincerity,
noting that it cannot meet their demands since they are not
supported by the salary commission.
Kenya, as several other African countries, has a poor
patient-doctor ration standing at 17 doctors for every 100,000
people, far below the World Health Organisation-recommended 100
for every 100,000.