Research Project Proposal: Election Violence in Kenya

7 pages
1896 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Dissertation proposal
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The research puzzle that I wish to resolve in this study is to establish whether, international observers in their capacity as election monitors unite nations for peace, or they act as catalysts for ethnic division and violence in young democracies such as Kenya. The international observers normally play a key role in determining whether the electoral process in a certain country is free, and credible process. However, based on the reports that they have published in the general elections that have been conducted since 1992, with the exception of the 2002 elections, it seems that they are more concerned with ensuring that peace and stability in these countries is upheld even when there is evidence of rigging, voters intimidation and other election malpractices. In relation to the August 8th general elections that were held in Kenya, opposition leaders such as Kalonzo Musyoka questioned the intentions, and credibility of some of the international observers that monitored the elections.

In this research, it will illustrate that in actual sense, failure of the international observers in their role of monitoring that the elections have been held in a free and fair process has actually contributed to post-election violence in the young democracies such as Kenya. This research will demonstrate that in countries such as Kenya, one of the main threats in regards to peace and security and a primary contributor to election violence in some parts of the country is the laxity that has been illustrated by international observers in their role and capacity as election monitors. The research study will advance existing literature in that, it will show that post-election violence in young democracies such as Kenya arises due to the belief by a section of citizens that is the only way that they will be heard. They feel that the incumbent government has even bribed the international observers so that they can provide reports that are in favor with the election process, even when there is evidence of election malpractices. This was demonstrated in the 2017 elections held in Kenya where a section of Kenyans on Twitter voiced their concerns over the integrity of John Kerry who led the Carter Center delegation to observe the elections. Some of the citizens felt that he had ulterior motives, given the way he okayed the elections as being credible despite multiple concerns that were raised by the opposition leader H.E. the Right Honorable Raila Odinga. They felt that if the incumbent government can influence world leaders of such magnitude to go along with their illegal practices in the election, then they cannot put trust in judiciary system of the country and therefore, the only way their voices and frustrations can be heard is by engaging in mass demonstrations and in some cases ethnic violence.

Q2. Briefly state the site or object of your research. How did you select this and why does it shed light on this particular research puzzle?

As has been stated before, the main objective of this research is to show the failure of the international election observers in their mandate is negatively affecting the democracy of young countries such as Kenya, facilitating conflict, and threatening the peace and development in the country. They have achieved this through a variety of ways such as:

By declaring elections that evidence shows were rigged, they are actually frustrating the rights of the citizens who feel that they are being robbed off their democratic right of electing the leaders of their choice.

They are also creating a sense of division in the country. For the people who support the incumbent government, they use the reports by the various international observers to argue that the elections were free and fair, and even go to the lengths of mocking the opposition leaders and their supporters. On the other hand, the belief by the citizens who oppose the opposition leaders that a fair and transparent election process cannot be held in a country such as Kenya is affirmed.

The reason why I selected this topic is because that I have served in the security sector in various capacities, studied Political Science in my undergraduate course, specializing in International Relations. I therefore am aware how political agitations, and social-violent conflicts can be brought about. Based on the results that will be found in this research, it will provide a sense of awareness to the key stake-holders (politicians, international observers, electoral governing bodies, and even citizens), especially the international observers that if they work diligently to fulfill their role, then it will be a step in the right direction as far as reducing incidents of post-election violence.

Q3. What are we going to learn as a result of the research project that we do not know now, and why is it worth knowing?

Election monitors help indirectly in the rigging process and other election malpractices that are conducted in young democracies. In most cases, the incumbent governments are aware of the laxity by the election monitors, and also existing loopholes, and therefore they take advantage of these instances to rig themselves in power. They know that the election observers will state that the elections were free and fair, legitimizing the government, and ensuring that it will not face international sanctions because it actually denied its citizens the democratic right to elect the leaders of their choice. If the election monitors were not present and the opposition raised concerns about the election malpractices their voices will be heard, instead of being assumed as being sore-losers.

Q4. Describe the relationship of the research project proposal to the theme of peace, security, conflict and development. Interpret the themes broadly for example, ranging from traditional definitions of security to human security?

The research project proposal emphasizes on the need of the international observers to fulfill their mandate in relation to monitoring elections, and making valid reports about the election process. It seeks to show that if they (international observers) are efficient in their work, it will have a positive effect on peace, and security; reduce conflict and facilitate the development goals of a country. In relation to peace, corrupt politicians in future will know that if they tamper with the election process, that their activities will be made public, and therefore, world leaders will discredit them, and they are likely to face various international sanctions until they resign from their positions. This will promote security because people will not feel threatened that the state will use the police and in some cases military personnel to suppress demonstrations.

If there is peace and security in a country, it is highly likely that incidences of conflict will be rare. In addition to that, it will promote development in the country. For instance, at the moment, development in Kenya is at a sluggish pace, both local and foreign investors have reduced their investments in different companies and sectors because of the uncertainty of the presidential elections that are slated for October 26th 2017. In addition to that, there are reports that various businesses are not performing as they should be because; they are constantly being closed whenever there are demonstrations in the Nairobi CBD area, Kisumu, Mombasa, and other parts of the country. The result of this is slow development, and it is one of the leading component as to why the country is losing its economic powerhouse status in the region, having been overtaken by Ethiopia, and even Tanzania seems to be on the verge of overtaking Kenya in terms of economic dominance.

Q5. Please explain in detail the method you will use to answer the research question, in the process explaining why the method you have selected is the best fit for the research questions. Also, kindly explain the research design method question two please write, as specifically as possible what activities you plan to undertake to collect information, the techniques you will use to analyze it and how you will know your conclusions are valid. In addition, specify the archives, the sources, the respondents, and the proposed techniques of analysis?

In this research, it adopts a quantitative research approach, and in this case it will use a unique approach that was selected in order to allow a mix of research questions that will explore new insights in relation to this relatively new field of research. In order to provide answers to the research questions, the research will employ a deductive research approach. The deductive approach is ideal mainly due to the fact that it involves inference of various propositions in this research. It will be ideal in illustrating the role that international observers play in relation to determining the possibility of post-election violence, disruption of peace, threat of security, promoting conflict, and having a negative effect on development. In addition to that, a deductive study approach, allows a researcher to be able to first research the literature in relation to previous studies of election monitoring process in young democracies, and then be in apposition to propose relationships between various variables.

Data acquisition will be achieved using structured questionnaires that allow the researcher to perform repeated measures over a specific duration. The participants who will be involved in this study are past election observers both local and international. The researcher will try to assess their experience while they were observing the elections in the country. The total number of participants who will be involved in this study is 100 who will be selected from the different election observation groups that send election observers to come and observe elections in Kenya. In this study, it will use stratified random sampling. The strata will be based on the organization of that the election monitors come from, and then a random sample will be selected from each stratum. The advantage of this method is that election monitors from different organizations will be well represented in this study. The data collected will be analyzed using the SPSS software. There are a variety of reasons why SPSS will be instrumental in this research- it allows the researcher to compare various data sets, and identify existing discrepancies between them.

Q6. Is there a likelihood that the research project will entail visiting East Africa community countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, and Somalia? If so estimate the number of days that will be spent in these countries, or is it just a Nairobi affair?

This study will only be a Nairobi affair. In reference to the other East African countries, any information needed will be derived from their news journals, or any research studies that has focused on elections in these countries.

Q7. In the course of compiling and writing the research proposal, explain how your final write-up or findings challenge or alter your initial assumption as outlined in the initial project proposal. Clearly illustrate the changes and indicate how your research findings challenged or fundamentally altered your initial hypotheses or even research design?

( Hi client, I think that this question will best be answered after conducting the actual research, collecting data, and analyzing the findings. My assumption is that as of now your general stand is that the Failure by International observers to ensure that young democracies such as Kenya hold credible general elections is a contributor to post-election violence. It threatens the peace and stability of a nation, increases conflict and negatively affects development. Therefore, after the research findings, you will be able to reiterate your current pos...

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