Democracy in Kenya: Africa is Watching

Published on 31st October 2017

If Kenyans thought that the repeat presidential elections that have seen Honourable Uhuru Kenyatta declared President Elect would unite the country, the reverse happened. The country is fractured and polarised more than ever.

Shortly before the elections, one of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officers who fled the country exposed the rot in the Commission. Shortly afterwards,  the IEBC Chairperson publicly stated  that the Commission could not guarantee free and fair elections unless its officers spoke in one voice, a number of its officers resigned, and political parties stopped manipulating it. Key stakeholders also raised issues that would guarantee credible elections. The Commission however went ahead to oversee the elections amidst national turmoil and without explaining if the anomalies raised by various quarters and itself had been corrected. Most of the Supreme Court judges who were expected to guide the nation in the uncharted waters failed to turn up when they were needed most. This saw widespread boycott and resistance that further dented the electoral credibility process.

Kenya’s political crisis demands a political solution through dialogue.  This dialogue should not aim at sharing power but avoiding institutional capture and elevating public institutions to a level where they can satisfy the electorate that the outcomes of competitive politics reflects their will. The quest for victory for victory’s sake should be avoided at all costs as it has already led to loss of lives, injuries, unproductivity, destruction of property, reversal in economic growth and undermining of democracy. Many countries in Africa are watching Kenya closely. If Kenya blunders, it will be a wrong precedence. If the country gets it right, it will be a beacon of  a mature  democracy worth emulating.

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