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US firm ranks Kenya as 'failed state' despite peaceful poll

Uhuru Kenyatta casts his vote at Mutomo Primary School in Gatundu South on March 4, 2013. Uhuru was accompanied by his wife Margaret Kenyatta (right). PHOTO/EMMA NZIOKA
Uhuru Kenyatta casts his vote at Mutomo Primary School in Gatundu South on March 4, 2013. Uhuru was accompanied by his wife Margaret Kenyatta (right). PHOTO/EMMA NZIOKA  NATION MEDIA GROUP


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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Kenya is ranked among the world's 20 most unstable countries in an annual "failed-state index" published on Monday by a Washington think tank and an online international affairs journal.

Successful efforts to prevent a repeat of the post-election violence of five years ago did not impress the analysts at the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine.

"The elections, thankfully, were relatively peaceful," acknowledges the brief entry on Kenya, which is listed in 17th place on the index -- one spot better than in 2012.

"But, as the International Crisis Group writes," the Kenya commentary continues, "'the conflict drivers that triggered the 2007 bloodshed, including a culture of impunity, land grievances, corruption, ethnic tensions, weak institutions and regional and socio-economic inequality, have yet to be addressed adequately.'"

The index annually receives a significant amount of global media attention.

Critics say its rankings are arbitrary, in that comparative degrees of instability cannot be measured scientifically.

The index's sponsors point to their use of specialised software and "sophisticated search parameters and algorithms" that produce numerical scores for social, economic and political indicators for 178 countries.

The index compilers may also be vulnerable to charges of prejudice since black African countries -- Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and Chad -- account for the five worst cases of state failure.

Despite military and political gains made against insurgents, "Somalia has the dubious honour of being the world’s No 1 failed state for the sixth straight year," says an introduction to the index.

Kenya is ranked one spot above Nigeria and just below Niger.

Uganda is placed in the 22nd position, while Tanzania is listed 65th, which is said to make it slightly more stable than both Israel and China.

Finland, Sweden and Norway are deemed the world's three most stable states.

That suggests the index may have poor predictive capacities, since Sweden was shaken last month by widespread rioting.



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