Monday, January 14, 2008

Kenya- an explanation?

So is it possible to have free and fair elections in Africa? I think Ghana has proven that free and fair elections and steps toward a consolidated democracy are possible, and until recently, Kenya would have been grouped into a similar category. What makes Ghana different? Here's my analysis, as to why the 2000 election in Ghana could easily have turned into the same situation but didn't.

(1). International encouragement and support. Not only was there monetary aid and international observers, but there was moral support as well, to encourage Rawlings to abide by term limits, etc. This encouragement I think was vital in setting a climate of peaceful change of power.

(2). Stronger Civil Society. Somehow, the civil society that encouraged Moi to return to a multiparty state and hold elections in 1992 has not carried through. There is no group in Kenya which holds enough legitimacy or trust of the people to legitmize elections or candidates or to encourage compromise or consensus. Ghana has a more vibrant civil society.

(3). And possibly most crucial. Ghana's politics - possibly because of differences in colonial rule and colonial independence - has never been as inextricably intertwined with ethnic and tribal affiliations as Kenya's. Add to this the fact that the NPP in Ghana made conscious efforts to appeal to broader constituency base than its Ashante reputation and there is a firm commitment to democracy. This has absolutely not occurred in Kenya, where politicians in elections have incited ethnic violence as a way to solidify support.

This led to a veritable powder keg... And we know what has happened as a result. This is just my opinion and analysis, and obviously not that deep. References available upon request for the factual bits.

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