Nothing learnt from post-elections violence

The next General Elections in Kenya will be marred by violence, rigging, voter intimidation and bribery.

Unless steps are taken, the next polls will usher the end of Kenya as we know it.

ODM grassroots elections held last Monday show that Kenyan politicians learnt nothing from the 2007 election violence and continue with their usual tactics of bullying, hiring goons, holding parallel elections and seeking favors from top party leaders.

Excerpts from Kenyan media:

Daily Nation

In Kisumu, councillor Robert Otuge of Kolwa East ward in Kisumu East constituency, together with 14 others, were accused of destroying property worth Sh500,000 at the home of Mr John Osumba in Manyatta estate on Saturday.

In Migori, two men were picked by police after two rival groups clashed at Pap Ndiege Village in Nyatike constituency.

Member of Parliament Edick Anyanga described the polls as free and fair, while his opponents claimed they had been rigged.

In Sabatia, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi went in unopposed as did Planning minister Wycliffe Oparanya in Butere.

East African Standard

Violence, parallel elections and logistic hiccups marred ODM branch elections in many parts of the country.

In Samia, violence between supporters of Cabinet Minister Paul Otuoma and his rivals scared off voters, who had hoped to elect branch officials.

In Vihiga, supporters of area MP Mr Yusuf Chanzu and those of former legislator Andrew Ligale held parallel elections. The returning officer, Mr Jonathan Angote, however, said Chanzu was elected unopposed.

In Rongai, there was confusion as supporters of MP Luka Kigen and those of his rival Joseph Kimetto also held parallel elections.

In Taveta, two groups held parallel elections. One faction led by Mrs Ruth Lelewu held elections on Sunday while another led by former Taveta MP Basil Criticos held polls on Monday (When did Criticos join ODM?).

Diplomats offer bribes for Kivuitu to quit

This is not a defence of the Electoral Commission of Kenya. Samuel Kivuitu and his commissioners should have resigned long ago. Their bungling of the 2007 General Elections means that Kenyans lost faith in their governance structures and it will be a long time before that faith is restored.

However, Kenyans are expressing disappointment over the behavior of diplomats from the European Commission. They want to pay ECK commissioners huge sums of money for them to resign from office.

According to the Standard newspaper, diplomats representing European Union countries in Nairobi offered overseas jobs and hefty retirement money to ECK Chairman Samuel Kivuitu and his 21 commissioners. The money is expected to induce them to leave the ECK in order to allow reforms recommended by the Kriegler Commission.

The United States, on its part, has placed a visa ban on all 22 Commissioners. These means that ECK commissioners cannot visit the United States for official or personal business.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula expressed outrage over the conduct of European Union envoys who visited the ECK chairman. “It is unacceptable for an ambassador accredited to Kenya to physically walk into an office of a holder of a constitutional office and directly confront him with the aim of attempting to force his resignation,’’ Wetangula said.

It is feared that the actions of European diplomats in Kenya could encourage extortion, as constitutional office holders will start demanding millions of shillings either to vacate office or to implement an action desired by foreign countries.

A precedent for this already exists. When the World Bank, in conjunction with foreign diplomats, created the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), it was decided that the Director be given a huge salary in order to “remove the temptation of becoming corrupt.” As it turns out, Kenya must be one of very few countries where a government servant earns more than the Head of State.

In spite of the obscene pay package, the effectiveness of KACC in combating corruption is highly in doubt. The same countries that played a role in creating KACC are busy replicating the model elsewhere.

Instead of reducing corruption, the unusual pay for KACC’s director led to demands for higher pay from other civil servants. Politicians got into the fray and members of parliament, cabinet ministers and councillors all increased their benefits by several hundred percentages.

Knowing the character of Kenyans, the offer of cash inducements for the resignation of ECK commissioners has been noted by the public. With time, other civil servants will be extorting money in order to resign. The same trend will spread to the military, local authorities, schools and churches. Politicians, who are now loudly cheering the diplomats, will ask for money in order to give up their seats.

Experience from other parts of the world indicates that involvement of foreigners in domestic activities tends to worsen situations rather than solve problems. Kenya will not be any different.

European envoys have proven that they are just as corrupt as the Kenyans they love to hate.

UDM an emerging force in Rift Valley

About a decade ago, Cyrus Jirongo and Kipruto arap Kirwa fell out with President Daniel arap Moi. The two were youthful legislators in the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU) and felt unappreciated by Moi.

In revenge, and fully aware of Moi’s loathing for multi-party politics, Jirongo and Kirwa founded the United Democratic Movement (UDM). The new party electrified crowds in the Kalenjin heartlands, long considered Moi strongholds. In reality, the duo didn’t say anything new but their open opposition to Moi in his own turf raised eyebrows. UDM soon got backing from other Kalenjin politicians hitting back at Moi.

The government declined to register UDM. Within months, Moi had bought off Jirongo and Kirwa by giving them plum positions in his government. Kalenjin politicians who had joined UDM were later seen in press photographs sharing hearty jokes with the president. After that, UDM became dormant. Until now.

UDM’s rise as a third force in the Rift Valley was sparked by dissatisfaction with electoral nominations in the ODM party. The Kalenjin had thrown their weight wholesomely behind ODM and its presidential candidate, Raila Odinga. They were so fond of Raila that they baptized him, ‘arap Mibey.’

Last November, there was intense competition for the party’s ticket among Kalenjin politicians. By then, it had become clear that whoever was nominated as the ODM candidate would have a walk-over during the General Election. Lots of candidates were disappointed by the chaos of the nomination exercise, with claims of favoritism and intimidation. A few of the candidates were nominated directly from Nairobi. That is when UDM emerged as an alternative political vehicle in the Rift Valley.

Both its founders ran for the discredited 2007 polls in other political parties. Kipruto Kirwa contested the Cherangany seat in President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU). Meanwhile, Jirongo ran for his Lugari seat in another self-created party: the Kenya African Democratic Development Union (KADDU).

As stated earlier, the ODM wave in Kalenjin land was too strong and Kirwa was swept out of Cherangany by a new comer. In Lugari, Jirongo associated himself with Raila’s ODM and managed to retake the seat after five years in the cold.

UDM was back in the limelight after the elections. There was a by election in Ainamoi constituency following the murder of its legislator, David Kimutai Too, days after he was sworn into parliament. The ODM command settled on his brother to succeed him, resulting in disquiet among other party functionaries. One of them defected to UDM and ran against the ODM candidate. Campaigning by Eldoret North MP, William Ruto, helped ODM win back the seat.

Now, UDM is exploiting the troubles within ODM over impending party elections and the Mau forest saga. Politicians from the Kipsigis community felt short-changed in cabinet appointments to the giant coalition last April. The late Kipkalya Kones was appointed as Minister for Roads but his death in June robbed the community of a major political personality. None of the current politicians can fill such a high-profile position. However, that hasn’t stopped them from making their discontent obvious.

There is a perception within the community that President Mwai Kibaki had fired many Kalenjin after he took over the presidency from Moi in 2003. ODM capitalized on these sentiments during the 2007 election campaigns and promised to re-appoint senior Kalenjin professionals into government.

By far the greatest reason for Kalenjin supporting ODM was the promise of a Majimbo federal constitution. Majimbo was expected to give the Kalenjin a greater say in the management of land, taxes, minerals and forests within their Rift Valley homeland.

The Kalenjin are unhappy with Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s decision to evict their ethnic compatriots from the Mau forest. The government says that the Mau forest water catchment is being destroyed at a fast rate and could endanger the flow of water into Lake Victoria. The Kalenjin say they have legitimate title deeds to land in the Mau forest.

Deep down though, and something that is not spoken openly, the Kalenjin are unhappy with Raila’s rapprochement with President Kibaki and the Kikuyu community. An announcement that Raila would be anointed as a Kikuyu elder did not amuse ODM supporters. The Kalenjin also believe that thousands of their youths were arrested over post election violence and want them released before they allow the return of internal refugees mostly from the Kikuyu and Kisii ethnic groups.

The manner in which candidates for the Sotik and Bomet by elections were selected also fed the discontent. In Bomet, ODM nominated a widow to the late Kipkalya Kones while in Sotik, the party’s candidate is a sister to the deceased legislator.

As campaigns for this week’s by elections in Bomet and Sotik heat up, Kipsigis politicians are backing candidates from other parties against those sponsored by their own ODM party. In Sotik, Isaac Ruto, who is emerging as a dissident voice within ODM, openly defied Raila and campaigned for a UDM candidate. Observers see the move as an open declaration of war.

With dissatisfaction brewing within ODM in the Rift Valley, the party to watch could by UDM. It’s not clear what agenda the party has but it’s a fact that UDM can no longer be ignored as a protest party.

2007 election not rigged – Kriegler

The 2007 General Elections were not rigged but Kenya’s Electoral Commission messed up the exercise making it impossible to tell who really won the poll

Johann Kriegler

Johann Kriegler

This was the verdict of the Independent Review Commission on the 2007 Elections. The Commission, headed by retired South African judge, Johann Kriegler, presented its report yesterday to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The President and Prime Minister promised to discuss the report in the coalition cabinet in order to decide how best to reform Kenya’s electoral system.

Supporters of Raila’s ODM party have expressed disappointment with Kriegler’s findings and insist the elections were deliberately rigged in Kibaki’s favour. However, during the Commission hearings, evidence emerged that all political parties committed electoral fraud within their ethnic strongholds.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were the two top protagonists in the tightly-fought presidential race. After Kibaki was declared winner, supporters of Raila rejected the results. Riots and ethnic clashes, especially in the Rift Valley, caused the deaths of over 1,000 people and made half a million homeless.

International peace talks led by Koffi Annan resulted in a coalition government, with Kibaki keeping the presidency and Raila appointed to the new post of Prime Minister. Johann Kriegler’s Commission of Inquiry was formed as part of the peace talks to analyze what went wrong with the elections.

According to Kriegler, the Kenyan people need to change the way they view and conduct elections. “Even if you fired the entire Electoral Commission of Kenya, and you appointed new people to conduct an election under the same circumstances, they will fail,” Kriegler has been quoted as saying.

While the casting of ballots proceeded smoothly, vote counting ruined the credibility of the polls. In many constituencies, incomplete results were declared. In other constituencies, election clerks were hired the day before the vote and sent to work without training. However, political parties were also to blame as each thought it would get an advantage by influencing the employment of clerks.

Final tallies were misinterpreted, there was too much pressure from political parties while, on numerous instances, people were allowed to vote more than once. In Kibaki and Raila strongholds, police officers and election observers were removed from polling centres which went ahead to, “declare” results.

Voters who queued for hours will be dismayed to learn that elections officials simply made up the final figures. The Returning Officer for Changamwe Constituency confessed to announcing wrong results because he was tired and hadn’t slept for three days. But the worst revelation came from a Returning Officer from Kirinyaga Central who admitted before the Commission that the current Member of Parliament for the constituency had infact lost the election.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Kenya spent thousands of dollars buying 210 laptop computers to assist in the tallying of election results. The computers were never used.

On its part, the Electoral Commission has blamed politicians for piling excessive pressure that disrupted its election procedures. Many constituencies had at least twenty candidates vying for the legislature and dozens for local authority seats in addition to at least ten presidential candidates. Since electoral law states that all party agents must assent to the final count in each constituency, getting unanimous agreement among the many agents and observers proved impossible.

Angola’s ruling party sweeps polls

Angola’s ruling MPLA party secured a landslide parliamentary election victory on Wednesday, setting the stage for changes that critics fear could make the presidency even more powerful and weaken other institutions.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and other senior MPLA officials had campaigned hard to win the two-thirds majority needed to alter the country’s constitution. They have not specified what changes are in the works.

More on this story from ConnectAfrica >>

The elections in Angola were under intense scrutiny in light of the shambles in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Spotlight now shifts to Malawi, which is due for an election soon. Campaign battle is raging between incumbent President Bingu wa Mutharika and former President Bakili Muluzi who is in the race.

Angola opposition want fresh polls

Four opposition parties in Angola want fresh polls held after chaos erupted in some parts of the country during Friday`s Parliamentary elections – the nation`s first in 16 years.

The main opposition party – UNITA – has described the polls as a sham. “The process has collapsed,” Isaias Samakuva, president of UNITA told AFP. He said a new vote was the only solution. The opposition contends that ballot control was inadequate and many people were prevented from voting.

More on this story from African News >>

Moi lacks moral authority on ethnic clashes

According to the Daily Nation, former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has asked Rift Valley residents who attacked and killed their neighbours during post election violence to apologize.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Daniel arap Moi. Picture by CNN.

Moi said an apology would lead to true reconciliation between them and the neighbours whose property they destroyed in the violence that followed disputed elections in December 2007. The violence left close to 1,000 people dead and half a million homeless.

However, the former president conveniently forgets that ethnic clashes in Kenya were institutionalized during his tenure of office. Government documents, such as the Akiwumu Inquiry on tribal clashes reveal deep involvement by Moi’s allies in fanning the fires of hatred.

The return to multi party politics prior to the 1992 General Elections created ethnic tension in the country, setting the stage for the chaos of 2008. The genesis of modern ethnic clashes in Kenya lies in the Rift Valley province, home to Moi’s Kalenjin ethnic group.

Kenya has eight provinces. According to electoral law, a winning presidential candidate must get at least 25% of votes in not less than five provinces in addition to a simple majority of national votes. As campaigns for the 1992 elections gained momentum, it was obvious that Kenneth Matiba would get a majority of votes in Central, Nairobi and possibly, Eastern Provinces. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga had a chance of getting at least 25% in his native Nyanza, in Western and Nairobi.

Matiba, a Kikuyu, also had strong possibilities of getting 25% in the Rift Valley thanks to the significant Kikuyu settler population. Moi, fearing that he could lose the presidency, began a campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Rift Valley to ensure that he won the province. Huge chunks of the Rift Valley were declared KANU zones, in reference to Moi’s political party. Moi and his cronies went back to parliament unopposed.

Ethnic wars in 1992 pitted the Kalenjin – Moi’s tribe – with almost all settler communities in the Rift Valley. It was not only the Kikuyu who were affected but large numbers of Luo, Luhya, Kamba and Kisii. Non-Kalenjin tribes in the Rift Valley were refered to as, “madoa doa,” meaning, “specks of dirt.” The Rift Valley is also home to the Pokot and Maasai tribes whose politicians were drawn into the Moi alliance, called KAMATUSA. Consequently, Kikuyu, Luo and Luhya settlers were evicted from Pokot and Maasai areas especially around Narok, Enoosupukia and Kapenguria.

The pro-Moi ethnic alliance began calling for Majimbo, a form of federalism. According to such personalities as the late Kipkalya Kones, late Shariff Nassir, William Ntimama and late Paul Chepkok, a federal system of government would ensure that each ethnic group governed itself and had monopoly over jobs, land and commerce within its enclave.

The comments were targetted at the Kikuyu, who have emigrated and settled across the country mostly for economic reasons. Since Kikuyu settlers had a relatively higher standard of living due to commercial activities, the calls for ethnic federalism proved quite popular in the Rift Valley and Coast province.

With the Luo tribe facing persecution due to its oppositionist leanings, both Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and his son, Raila Odinga, condemned Moi’s tactics. 30 years earlier, it was Jaramogi and founding president, Jomo Kenyatta, who had turned Kenya into a unitary republic after rejecting Majimbo federalism.

As a result of the ethnic chaos, Moi won the 1992 elections with 36% of the vote.

Five years later, there were politically motivated ethnic clashes prior to and after the 1997 General Elections. This time, the flash points were not only the Rift Valley, but also the Coast. In Mombasa, Sharif Nassir, a Moi ally, led KANU campaigns in the city.

Mombasa was founded by Arab traders almost a thousand years ago. The population of Mombasa and the Coastal strip consists of the Swahili, who are of mixed Arab and African ancestry. There is also the Mijikenda tribe as well as Hindus, Persians and Europeans. The building of the railway and the expansion of the Mombasa port in the 20th century attracted large numbers of workers from the interior of Kenya. The workers came mostly from the Luo, Kikuyu, Luhya, Kamba and Taita tribes. In the 1980s, a booming tourism industry attracted greater numbers of migrant workers in search of jobs and business opportunities.

During the 1997 campaigns, Nassir and KANU were worried that migrant workers would not vote for Moi. A campaign for Majimbo federalism was began, with Nassir claiming that migrant workers were taking up jobs at the coast meant for local people. Migrant communities were blamed for crime, prostitution and drug trafficking. As it turns out, the local Mijikenda tribe found these messages very appealing and gave their support to KANU. Then came terror.

In August 1997, a group consisting of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of raiders attacked the Likoni Police Station, just across the bay from Mombasa Port. Police officers were killed, prisoners released and firearms looted. Within the Likoni area, large numbers of Luo and Kikuyu were attacked and forced into trains heading for their ancestral homes. It was rumored at the time that the vanguard of the raiding unit consisted of Interahamwe militia, straight out of the Rwanda genocide. Other rumors indicated that the raiders were led by foreign-trained elite forces loyal to Moi.

Evidence was produced in the Akiwumi Commission of Inquiry implicating senior politicians in the Moi government and KANU party. An Asian farmer in Kwale District alleged that prior to the Likoni violence, his land was used to oath local youths but his reports to the police were ignored.

With Moi declared as winner of the 1997 elections, Mwai Kibaki, who came second, went to court to petition the results. Kibaki claimed that there had been electoral malpractices that gave Moi an unfair advantage over his opponents. Moi’s allies in the Rift Valley were outraged by what they saw as Kibaki’s challenge and a fresh round of ethnic clashes began. Kikuyu settlers in Laikipia District were especially affected by incidences of raiders burning homes and looting livestock.

From this overwhelming evidence, it is clear that Moi should be the first person to apologize as far as ethnic clashes are concerned. Otherwise, his calls for Rift Valley people to apologize can only be considered hypocritical at worst and cynical at best.

Incompetence, not rigging, ruined Kenya polls

Preliminary findings from the Kriegler Commission of Inquiry indicate that last year’s General Election failed due to incompetence by the Electoral Commission of Kenya and not because of a diabolical plot to rig the elections.

Both President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were shortchanged in the vote tally.

From evidence adduced before the Commission, its becoming clear that the true winner of the election may never be known. Final tallies were misinterpreted, there was too much pressure from political parties while, on numerous instances, people were allowed to vote more than once. In strongholds of the two leading presidential candidates, police officers and election observers were removed from polling centres which went ahead to, “declare” results.

Voters who queued for hours will be dismayed to learn that elections officials simply made up the final figures. The Returning Officer for Changamwe Constituency confessed to announcing wrong results because he was tired and hadn’t slept for three days. But the worst revelation came from a Returning Officer from Kirinyaga Central who admitted before the Commission that the current Member of Parliament for the constituency had infact lost the election.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission of Kenya spent thousands of dollars buying 210 laptop computers to assist in the tallying of election results. The computers were never used.

The Independent Review Commission investigating the 2007 General Election is a result of peace talks brokered by former United Nations Secretary General, Koffi Annan, in March this year. The Peace talks ended political and ethnic clashes that erupted following the election. At least 1,000 people died between December 2007 and February 2008. Half a million were evicted from their homes.

The violence pitted supporters of Raila Odinga against those of Mwai Kibaki. The two men were the top contenders in December’s polls. Kenya’s Electoral Commission declared Kibaki the winner but Raila’s supporters rejected the results due to anomalies in the vote counting process.

The Koffi Annan peace talks led to the formation of Kenya’s giant coalition cabinet. Kibaki retained the presidency, while Raila got the new position of Prime Minister. The Independent Review Commission is expected to establishing why the polls failed. The Commission is headed by Justice Johann Kriegler from South Africa.

Previous evidence at the Kriegler Inquiry has revealed that thousands of electoral clerks were literally picked off the streets and sent to work without training. However, political parties were also to blame as each thought it would get an advantage by influencing the employment of clerks.

On its part, the Electoral Commission has blamed politicians for piling excessive pressure that disrupted its election procedures. Many constituencies had at least twenty candidates vying for the legislature and dozens for local authority seats in addition to at least ten presidential candidates. Since electoral law states that all party agents must assent to the final vote tally in each constituency, getting unanimous agreement among the many agents and observers proved impossible.

Electoral Commission Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, has criticized political parties for presenting conflicting lists of candidates. This, according to Kivuitu, contributes to confusion during elections.

Since the disputed elections, Kivuitu and his team have resisted calls to resign, saying that their actions were lawful. Days after declaring President Kibaki as winner, Kivuitu was quoted as saying he did not really know who won the election.

Raila demands release of ODM youth

Kenyan Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has demanded the release of youths arrested for ethnic and political clashes that erupted following disputed elections in December 2007.

Raila has also called for the prosecution of Kenyan police officers over the deaths of hundreds of supporters of his Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) during the violence.

ODM is accusing the Kenyan government of detaining hundreds, if not thousands, of its youth following political and ethnic clashes in the first quarter of 2008. The youths were charged with rioting, murder, arson, rape and blocking highways. The country’s railway network was also vandalized by supporters of the Prime Minister. Kenya’s security forces have denied detaining ODM youth, saying that most of those arrested were given bonds while awaiting trial.

The violence caused the deaths of close to 1,000 people. Raila Odinga of ODM was running against President Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) in a tight contest. President Kibaki was declared winner with a small margin, but Raila and ODM rejected the results as rigged. ODM supporters took to the streets against the government.

As with most of Africa, both ODM and PNU were supported by rival tribes, and PNU supporters became the target of ODM attacks. Hundreds of thousands of Kikuyu, Kisii and Kamba were evicted from ODM strongholds in Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley provinces for supporting Kibaki. In retaliation, Luo, Kalenjin and Luhya were pushed out of Central and Eastern Kenya. At one point, it seemed as though Kenya would be partitioned into two. By March this year, at least half a million people were homeless, seeking refuge in sordid camps across the country.

Most of the ethnic attacks were in ODM strongholds, but Raila has said the violence was a spontaneous reaction to flawed elections and that there was no ethnic cleansing agenda. The party cites the shooting of 80 people in Kisumu, as evidence of state repression against peaceful demonstrators, a claim the government denies. Human rights bodies and aid agencies believe that slightly over 30% of total deaths were caused by police shootings. The rest were a result of machete attacks, lynchings and arson.

International mediation efforts led by former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, and supported by the United States, resulted in a coalition government. Kibaki retained the presidency and a new post of Prime Minister was created to accomodate Raila. 42 ministers were appointed from ODM, PNU and ODM-Kenya, a splinter group of ODM.

ODM is convinced that it was robbed of victory in the elections while PNU accuses ODM of muscling its way into government. Though the coalition is holding, analysts say that supporters of Raila and Kibaki were unhappy with the compromise. The United States told both leaders that they must ensure the survival of the coalition in order for Kenya to remain peaceful and to continue playing its role as an American ally in the region.

The Prime Minister is facing growing pressure from ODM rank and file who resent his growing ties with President Kibaki and the Kikuyu ethnic group. Raila’s latest remarks could be viewed as a move to assure his supporters that ODM ideals are very much alive.

Kenya’s giant coalition and its effect on Africa

For better or for worse, Kenya’s formation of a giant coalition in the wake of a disputed election will be replicated across Africa. Negotiations in Zimbabwe for the formation of a similar coalition is evidence of this worrisome trend.

Zimbabwes Robert Mugabe will form a coalition government with his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe will form a coalition government with his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. Picture by the Sidney Morning Herald.

Kenya’s giant coalition was formed by the three leading contenders in the December 2007 General Elections. According to the Electoral Commission of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki of the Party of National Unity (PNU) won the polls. Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) came second but immediately rejected the results on account of opinion polls which had put him in the lead. The third placed candidate was Kalonzo Musyoka of ODM-Kenya, a splinter group of ODM.

Violence after the elections led to the formation of Kenya’s first coalition since independence. Kibaki retained his position as President, while a new post of Prime Minister was created in Kenya’s constitution to accommodate Raila Odinga. Kalonzo became Vice-President in the new equation.

In Zimbabwe, its becoming evident that Robert Mugabe will keep the presidency while Morgan Tsvangirai will have the yet-to-be-created post of Prime Minister. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the first round of elections in March but Mugabe refused to vacate office. Negotiations are now stuck on who between the two will have greater executive authority for the government of Zimbabwe. Like in Kenya, a third political candidate, Aurthur Mutambara, is part of the talks.

There is growing fear among political observers that the little democracy that exists in Africa will be destroyed by the trend established by Kenya and Zimbabwe. With elections scheduled soon in Malawi and Angola, the fears may have some credibility.

The prospect of retaining the presidency will encourage African leaders to subvert the electoral process and negotiate a coalition. African leaders are not exactly famous for leaving power. Indeed, across Africa, democratically elected presidents are busy changing constitutions in order to remove the two-term limits. In Malawi, a former two-term president is among contenders in the forthcoming polls. Now, with possibilities of forming giant coalitions, African leaders may have found a new tactic to lengthen their occupancy of the top seat.

Contrary to what is portrayed by Western media, opposition parties in Africa are not the bastions of democracy they claim to be. Virtually all opposition in Africa consists of people that fell out with their governments for purely self-serving reasons. The new trend of giant coalition governments will induce opposition movements in Africa to reject electoral results – even where the process is fair – and demand slots in government. We are likely to see increased ethnic and other violence in African countries as opposition candidates play to the gallery of international media while seeking sympathy for their cause.

For this, the prospects for the ordinary African remain rather bleak. He and she will be used by politicians, both government and opposition, both claiming to represent the people but in reality hungrily eying the riches of the land. Once the giant coalition is formed, it is a resumption of the usual business of hyena-style politics, with discussion revolving on whose cronies get jobs in the state apparatus.

Such is the Pandora’s box that has been opened by Kenya.

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