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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) |Volume VI, Issue IX, September 2022|ISSN 2454-6186

An assessment of the nexus between ethno-politics and public diplomacy in Kenya

 Jacklyne Aput, Dr. Anita Kiamba and Prof. Peter Kagwanja
Department of Diplomacy and International Studies, University of Nairobi, Kenya

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: – Kenya’s domestic political climate is getting new a definition from election violence to highly contested elections. The constant protest of presidential election results has been adding twist to Kenya’s foreign relations and presenting dilemma for both domestic and foreign publics. Looking at the country’s policy determinants such as the nature of state political party interests, government leaders’ capabilities and decision-making systems implored during the 2007/08 crisis, the study critically analyses government management of public diplomacy in violent situations. Though the study area lacks a theoretical underpinning it adopts a critical approach on ethnic group representative powers and dynamics of conflict. The study uses mixed method research design to explore ethno political mobilization in Kenya. It carries out an analysis of public diplomacy and its relative importance in societal associations with specific reference to ethno-politics. In its evaluation of the principles of equality and democracy, the paper critically assesses government’s ability to defuse ethnic political conflicts and improve horizontal cohesion. The study argues out that governments promote political interests through manipulation of ethnic differences. However, institutions tend to remain dormant with no serious attempt to deal with root causes of conflicts rather that controlling conflict resolution and mediation mechanisms.

Keywords: Ethno-politics, Public diplomacy, Political climate


The ancient basis for social association and national identity is ethnic identity. It is a potential force in societies and in its own rights, it is both a uniting and a dividing line and the most salient. Reinforced by social, tribal, class differences or territorial identity, the interaction of ethnic cleavages with electoral laws has circumscribed the identity of recognition in most countries. Michael Ross defines ethno-politics as an examination of relationship between ethnicity and culture as forms of collective political identity. It is the formation of beliefs, values and preferences with ethnicity as a cultural tool for political competition. Kenya has been a peaceful country except during elections when citizens tend to align themselves to different political parties. These alignments are majorly ethnic and not manifesto driven. As a democratic country, Kenya has been accommodating ethno-political demands from