Sunday, December 30, 2007

Disbelief and despondency as I follow the elections in Kenya

The wait is over in Kenya (for now), and Kibaki has been declared winner . From reports of election rigging which included the falsifying of results, it appears that democracy has been set back again in Africa. I am not angry, but just quietly sad. Sad that in a year that so many Kenyans displayed their faith in the electoral system by turning out to vote, people now have to ask what the point was. Sad that once again, incumbency has been abused. Sad that the ability of power to corrupy has robbed ordinary Kenyans of their right to decide who governs the country.

I've been following the coverage from Ory and M. As Ory talks about the tears she is fighting as she blogs the results, and M about his own tears. I remember the tears I cried in 2000. Very different tears though.

I cried in 2000 as election results were announced in Ghana, and we transitioned for the first time from one democratically elected government to another. I cried because after the Stolen Verdict of 1992, and the obviously fraudulent elections of 1996, Ghanaians had been able to exercise their right to vote, and know that the elections reflected our choice. I cried tears of joy at what I thought was a step forward for democracy in Africa in general, and since then I've smiled at the thought that we can learn from our mistakes, and slowly take steps towards a mature democracy in which people can be confident that their vote 'is their power.' I was drawn to tears again and again when I saw the joy of Ghanaians on the streets, when I saw the renewed sense of hope that people had. Never in my life had I seen such spontaneous euphoria. For many it was because their candidate had won, but for a lot of others, it was also because we had come of age as a democracy, and there was joy in knowing that if this winner did not live up to his promises and perform creditably, their candidate would have a chance again in 2004.

Today I'm stunned as I follow what is happening in Kenya, and robbed of the confidence I had that if nothing else, Ghana's elections in 2008 will be free and fair.

Ory and M give a god snapshot of what has been happening
- Results being falsified by electoral officials before they are announced
- An electoral officer who will have no part in the fraud blowing the whistle, and confirming the widespread rigging
- Kibaki being sworn in at a location with no media coverage minutes after the results are announced
- The AG and Chief Justice attending the swearing-in
- A media blackout in Kenya after rumours that a state of emergency would be declared.
- A rush for food, as no-one knows what is happening because of the media blackout, or what other services will be cut off next.
- Raila Odinga and some of his party members have been arrested

In 2007. It looks like whoever is *in* power decides who will be in power next. If s/he concedes, then we have a chance at the person who was voted for by the general populace. If not, whoever his/her choice is wins. How long before more African countries have judiciaries that are independent of the executive? How long before the Chief Justice can nullify the results and refuse to participate in the swearing in because he believes the results were rigged? Apparently independence till 2007 has not been long enough.

As I follow the elections in Kenya, a lot of the trepidation has to do with the thought of elections in Ghana in December 2008. While I am under no illusions that my preferred candidate will have an easy victory ( or indeed win at all), I've at least been confident that the voice of the people would prevail. With a virtual

1 comment:

dum said...

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