January 15, 2003
KENYA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: NEW 'ROLE MODEL' FOR AFRICAN DEMOCRACY?
** Mwai Kibaki's victory
inspired widespread hope for the peaceful transfer of power in Africa.
** Sub-Saharan writers
urged Kibaki to "reconcile" Kenya and consolidate multiparty
** Kenyan dailies were
circumspect about an impending foreign aid "stampede."
Opposition candidate Kibaki's win considered a
'source of pride' and inspiration for politics in the region. Even government-run news outlets in Africa
celebrated the opposition National Rainbow Coalition's (NARC) "great upset
victory" over the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU). Noting finality in the era of "Africa's
Big Men," the government-owned Zambia Daily Mail exhorted outgoing
fifth-term President Daniel arap Moi to "use his massive political
experience and tower above partisan politics." Others hoped Kenya's new representative
government would provide traction for both the East African Community and the
New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). Tanzania's government-owned Daily News
pledged Dar es Salaam's "support, co-operation and solidarity" in
dealing with bilateral and regional matters.
A Canadian daily joined European well-wishers in urging Kenya to become
"what it was always expected to be--an example of how to achieve
post-independence prosperity and freedom."
While terrorism and corruption loom large, Kibaki's first task is
to 'reconcile' Kenya by promoting multiparty democracy. One observer judged that Kibaki will have to
keep the Rainbow Coalition from "refracting into its various ethnic
colors" in order to succeed. Other
independent Kenya papers asked the president-elect to prove that he and
"KANU-breakaway NARC" are other than "KANU-II." The ruling, now opposition, KANU Party-owned Kenya
Times challenged Kibaki to move from the "activism" of opposition
party politics to representative government.
'Beware the pot of [foreign aid] gold buried at the end of the
rainbow.' While European and
Canadian dailies stressed international "eagerness" to renew Kenya's
lending program, Kenyan dailies were jittery about the prospect of
"borrowing hugely all over again."
Nairobi's independent, pro-business Standard advised that while
foreign capital will be needed at some point, "redesigning a system that
can absorb foreign capital inflows without causing indigestion" is urgent
now. A Tanzanian-based consultant, writing
in the independent East African, argued against a blanket conditioning
of foreign aid on anti-corruption reforms, judging it "an utter scandal if
the old guard of KANU is allowed to slip back into business with donor
carpetbaggers, unchallenged by the progressive elements in Kenyan
EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 22 reports from 9 countries over Dec. 25- Jan. 15,
2003. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
KENYA: "NARC, Beware
The Donor And His Pot Of Gold!"
Brian Cooksey, a consultant based in Dar es Salaam, wrote in the
independent, intellectual weekly with regional distribution East African
edition (1/13-19): "Legend has it that there is a pot of gold buried at
the end of the rainbow. In Kenya's case,
the pot of gold the National Rainbow Coalition government is hoping to unearth
is worth a cool billion dollars. All
President Mwai Kibaki needs to do to find the pot of gold is to wave the magic
wand and cast the spell: zero tolerance
for corruption..... The new coalition
will require a lot of feeding if it is not to refract into its various ethnic
colors. So a billion dollar pot of gold
will help out very nicely thank you. My
new year prediction is that aid will soon become the biggest source of
political patronage in Kenya.... On the
'donor' side, the Cold War has been replaced by the war against terrorism. 'You are either for us or against us,'
declared U.S. President George Bush.
Kenya, a strategically located base for U.S. military activities in the
East African and Indian Ocean region, is unreservedly 'for us.' The U.S. government, the IFIs (international
financial institutions) and their bilateral colleagues all promote the same
globalisation policies that NARC will soon sign up to: liberalization,
privatization, GG (good governance)....
Does Kenya really need further big loans from the IFIs No. Kenya has the human and economic capacity
to work its way out of poverty. Despite
political insecurity prior to the election, looting the treasury to fund it,
and the drying up of balance of payment support, the Kenyan currency and
inflation rate have remained remarkably stable.
Kenya's private sector lobbies, NGOs and think tanks should ask why the country
needs to start borrowing hugely from the IFIs all over again. If donors want to help, let them rebuild the
country's dilapidated infrastructure.
NARC needs no external advice on how to combat corruption.... [Resurrecting] KACA [the Kenyan Anti-Corruption
Authority] is a distraction from the real challenge which is how to make
existing institutions, including the judiciary, work. Accepting the 'rule of law' is what matters,
not passing new 'anti-corruption' laws....
It would an utter scandal of the old guard of KANU politicians and
bureaucrats is allowed to slip back into business with donor carpetbaggers,
unchallenged by the progressive elements in Kenyan society."
"World Records Major Democratic Gains"
Jonathan Power penned this in the independent left-of-center Nation
(1/6): "It always feels nice to open a New Year with good news. But that indeed is the message on the
democracy front this week. It began in
Kenya with the recent defeat of the hand-picked candidate of the autocrat of
Kenya, Mr. Daniel arap Moi. On December
30, the election winner Mr. Mwai Kibaki took over as president and there have
been hopes that this clever ex-finance minister is skilled enough to start to
put the country back on its feet and to release the wealth of talent and energy
that it has in abundance."
"Let Us Be Wary Of An Expected Aid Deluge"
The independent, pro-business Standard ran this piece by
John Mulaa (1/5): "With a welcome change of government, Kenya is likely to
suffer from a deluge of aid and assistance offers. Word around Washington is that the Bretton
Woods institutions have been anticipating the change and are about to
reactivate lending to Kenya. Teams,
composed partly of retired personnel with knowledge of the country, have been
at work these past few weeks, crunching numbers and cranking lending strategies
they believe are suitable for the economically ailing country. Wait a minute, some not so sanguine voices
are cautioning.... The quietly
dissenting voices, while agreeing Kenya will require massive injection of
foreign capital at some point, are wary of the impending stampede because, they
argue, what the country needs most is a redesigned and reconstituted system
that can both absorb and digest foreign capital inflows without causing indigestion
and other negative side-effects....
President Mwai Kibaki, who no doubt understands these things, may have
to patiently explain to Kenyans what this aid business is all about. The focus should remain on internal resources
as the engine of growth. Getting
governance right is the all-important part of the equation. The rest should
"A Great Upset--But Also A Stark Warning"
Charles Onyango-Obbo commented in the independent, intellectual
weekly with regional distribution East African edition (12/30-1/3): "To appreciate the magnitude of the
victory by Mwai Kibaki and his party in last weekend's general election, one
has to consider that it's the first opposition defeat of ruling party in East,
Central and Northern Africa in modern times.
The National Rainbow Coalition--ended KANU's 39-year dominance of
Kenya's post independence politics with a thorough rout. Because it's a drop in Africa's bleak
political ocean, it is too early to say whether the Kenyan poll result
represents a significant enough democratic shift in the continent's political
behaviour.... NARC may be celebrating,
but it's not time for everyone to join the singing and dancing. NARC is, to all intents and purposes,
KANU-II. [President-elect] Mwai Kibaki
was for many years a KANU stalwart.
NARC's leading lights...were until yesterday ministers who heaped praise
on Baba Moi [Father Moi]. Their falling
out was not over major policy differences, but because they disagreed with
Moi's choice of Uhuru Kenyatta as his successor. That NARC has turned out to be the biggest
challenge to KANU is an uncomfortable indictment of what passes for an
opposition in Africa....
"Just as the old opposition parties in Kenya seemed to fizzle
with the emergency of the KANU-breakaway NARC, the traditional opposition
parties in Uganda, the Democratic Party and the Uganda People's Congress, also
lost the political initiative once Besigye [a disgruntled Museveni follower]
took on Museveni. As in Kenya, they were
relegated to adopting Besigye, a previous adversary, as their
candidate.... Therefore, the ruling
parties are not only monopolizing power, but their reformist or disgruntled
factions have now also taken over the mantle of the opposition. NARC's victory might inspire a new optimism
for democratic politics in the region; but it could also herald the death of
opposition parties and politics as we have known them until now."
"Yes, But Kibaki, NARC Must Fulfill
The KANU Party-owned Kenya Times declared (12/30): "That Mr. Kibaki is poised to lead this
country gives him a good opportunity to implement all those promises that his
coalition of parties promised Kenyans during their campaigns. Key to this promised governance will be to
maintain the tranquil [situation] that he inherits from the KANU
administration, for it is what is going to be his greatest challenge. In doing so, Mr. Kibaki must of necessity
steer clear of issues that will drive a wedge into society, knowing that what
he will be leading is a nation and not an opposition party where activism
supersedes the national interest.... The
new government must end its honeymoon pretty fast and tackle the real issues
facing this country. Mr. Kibaki must discard
self-seekers who will soon surround him, pretending to be true friends of this
country. Let us all pull together for
this great nation that has no doubt carved a niche for itself as a model
bastion of peace."
"Repairing Our Broken Dream"
The independent, left-of-center Nation
opined (12/29): "Never has the
nation spoken with such clarity, such a united, pained and desperate yearning
for things to be made right. Never has a
tired people, burdened with the cares of decades of bad government, slipped off
the yoke with such a determined, steady hand.... It is the verdict of a people aware that
their country was headed for disaster demanding an end to the arrogant
disregard for the public interest. And
has Mr. Mwai Kibaki heard the voice of his people?... His first job is to heal and reconcile and
unite the country so that all of us can focus our energies on tackling the
atrocious difficulties threatening the survival of our country. In that respect, we do not expect the
formation of the NARC government to be a division of the spoils among the
victors. We expect Mr Kibaki to form an
intelligent government that looks for talent and makes use of it, rather than
the usual vacuous KANU patronage business of rewarding loyalty. But what every Kenyan desires most urgently
is the immediate...destruction of the corruption and theft cartels that have
bled this country dry."
SOUTH AFRICA: "Kenya
The conservative Citizen argued (12/30):
"Kenya's election results are significant for several reasons. First is the voluntary, if reluctant,
stepping down of Daniel arap Moi. Kenya
is also special because of Arap Moi's status as one of the last of Africa's
'Big Men' from past decades.... Much
depends on how Kenyans adapt to their new reality. But there is hope for all on the continent
who labour under undemocratic rule.
Liberation parties have their sell-by date."
"The Message From Kenya"
The liberal Star held (12/31),
"There will no doubt have been a collective sigh of relief across much of
the African continent now that there has been a change of leadership in
Kenya. This will have been prompted by
three factors: The end of yet another
long and corrupt 'reign' by a politician who seemed more interested in his own
welfare than that of his people; the fact that this happened without bloodshed
or a military coup; and the fact that the promise of reform seemed the lure
that got people to go to the polls....
If [Mwai] Kibaki can even half meet his promises, then there must be
hope for this East African country and its neighbours."
"A Crucial Milestone For African Democracy"
The pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan
rejoiced (12/30): "Africa made
further uneasy steps towards entrenching democracy on the continent when
President Daniel arap Moi's KANU party was defeated in Kenya's presidential and
general elections.... Naturally, this
development, coming at a period of revival and renewal spearheaded by the
African Union, ushers in a new era not only for the East African country but
for the rest of the continent.... Surely
other Africans must emulate the Kenyans' example if democracy is to take root
on the continent and if the rest of the world is to take the New Partnership
for Africa's Development (NEPAD) seriously....
For all the pessimism that still dogs it, Africa must savour another
rare milestone in its history."
TANZANIA: "Hats Off To
The English-language government-owned Daily News held
(12/31), "Kenyans have shown the
world that they have the ability to run the affairs of their country and change
peacefully and democratically the top leadership of their country. We wish to congratulate Kenyan voters for
this achievement. An orderly ballot in
an East African country is a pride for the whole of Africa. For this smooth leadership transition in
Kenya, East Africans now know they will be moving forward, not backward. We wish to congratulate President Mwai Kibaki
for winning the poll. He is the
legitimate third president of the Republic of Kenya. Through the ballot-based system, the Kenyans
have expressed confidence and trust in President Kibaki. He will speak for and on behalf of Kenyans
because of the full backing they have given him. Tanzania will work faithfully with the
government of President Kibaki.
President Kibaki himself should rest assured of Tanzania's support,
co-operation and solidarity in dealing with bilateral matters between our
sister states and in pursuing and safeguarding East African
"Congratulations Kenyans On Your Election, But..."
The Kiswahili-language independent Mwananchi opined
(12/29), "What does it teach us Tanzanians? Like the Kenyans, we also have a multiparty
system. In short, we think that they
taught their fellow politicians in Tanzania that there is strength in unity and
weakness in separation, a lesson that has been hard for the politicians here to
learn. We would like to congratulate Kenyans
for turning out in large numbers to cast their votes without regard for the
weather.... The heavy rains did not
prevent the voters from coming out and fulfilling their responsibilities. We expect that President Daniel arap Moi, who
was officially bid farewell by units from the defense and security forces, will
be a true patriot as he had promised and hand over power to anyone who is the
choice of the Kenyan people. We think
that Moi as the Chairman of KANU will advise his fellow party members to realize
that politics is a game that changes with time.
They should therefore respect any outcome and the losers should wait for
another five years."
"Kenyans, Vote With Peace"
The Kiswahili-language independent Mtanzania held (12/27),
"We wouldn't be happy to see Kenya, which is our great companion in the
East African Community, which was reborn a year ago, enter into chaos just
because of fighting as to who should lead the country. We ask our brothers and sisters in Kenya, on
this day, to be calm while they know that the fate of their country is in their
own hands, and they have the final decision on that. However, political and party leaders also
have their role to play in maintaining peace in Kenya; especially their actions
today. A leader with no political
patience today could cause a great calamity in the country, just from his
remarks and actions. We think that every
candidate and leader will mind his tongue, so as to make sure that nothing
could cause chaos whose aftermath would be regretted forever. We wish them a peaceful Election Day and
tranquillity in Kenya, and urge all those who will lose fairly to agree with
the results; and those who think that they have been robbed of their right, to
abide by the law."
"All The Best For Kenya General Elections"
The Kiswahili-language independently-owned Mwananchi
held (12/27): “This year’s election
could be called historic, especially the campaigns, which officially ended on
Tuesday, seemed to be very fierce and were highly competitive.... There were disturbances here and there, which
threatened the peace, to the extent that many Kenyans have run away from their
country and entered Tanzania, fearing the eruption of chaos during the
elections or even after the results have been made public.... Outside Africa, especially in Europe and
America, the African continent has been perceived as an arena of chaos, where
true democratic competition is non-existent and where leaders do not want to
hand over power on their own free will.
Some analysts inside and outside Africa have started saying that the
chaos that manifested itself during the campaigns have been the work of
President Moi, whose term of office is coming to an end, with the aim of
hanging on to power, even after leading that country for 24 years.... President Moi has every reason to show the
world that he is a true democrat and that he has all set to hand over power and
give others the opportunity to lead the country regardless of differences in
ideology. As a result of that, we at Mwananchi
firmly believe that President Moi will remember very well that he has
already been going around inside and outside the country bidding farewell,
something that confirms he is set to leave power in a peaceful manner after
accomplishing much for the country.”
"Wisdom Need For Kenyans To Elect Good
Kiswahili-language ruling party-owned Uhuru
(12/25) suggested that the election is important for all of East Africa, not
just for Kenya: “For 24 years, they have
become used to the leadership of President Moi.
Now that he is leaving, it is essential that another leader with the
ability and skills continue with the success and the good things that have been
attained during the long period of Mzee Moi’s leadership and even initiate
other changes that will benefit the nation of Kenya. For East Africans, the new Kenyan president
will assume office at a time when the East African Community has already been
revived, with the aim of strengthening economic, trade, cultural and social
cooperation in our zone of Africa....
Our expectations therefore are that the Kenyan voters will apply wisdom
in getting leaders with the view to putting the interests of their country and
its people first, but also in considering the importance of cooperation and the
interests of East Africa. We wish them
good and peaceful elections on Friday.”
"Unity Of The Opposition"
The independent Post held (12/31): "We congratulate Kenya's newly elected
President Mwai Kibaki for his victory in
the just held presidential polls. It
shouldn't be forgotten that elections are the central institution of democratic representative
governments.... Fortunately for the
Kenyans, unity in the opposition through their
National Rainbow Coalition to a large extent helped achieve victory for
"A Victory Not Just For Kenyans But For
Africans As A Whole"
The government-owned Zambia Daily Mail held (12/30): "Kenyans have not just scored a first by
rejecting Uhuru Kenyatta, the man out-going President Daniel Arap Moi had
hand-picked, but have contributed to [a] democratic dispensation.... So, Moi should not be ashamed at Kenyatta's
electoral defeat, neither should his party.
This is the time for Moi, Uhuru and KANU to pick up the debris and forge
ahead.... In the same vein, Moi should
use his massive political experience and tower above partisan politics in
Kenya. Kibaki's victory is not just
victory for the Kenyans but Africans as a whole. This will show the rest of the world that
there are many African countries that cherish peace and are capable of holding
peaceful, free and fair elections."
"Source Of Pride"
The government-owned weekly Sunday Mail
maintained (12/29): "Whatever the
eventual outcome of the Kenya polls, all Kenyans should look at themselves as
winners for going through the process with minimum hiccups.... They have done themselves--and
Africa--proud. They have set a good
example for the continent to emulate in terms of enhancing democracy,
particularly the right to vote.... The
Kenyans have clearly shown that Africa is not all about conflict in the shape
of wars like those raging in Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of
Congo. It will be important too,
however, that the Kenyans accept the outcome of the polls. Those that may have strong reservations about
the outcome have the courts of law through which they could seek redress."
"The Kenyan Example"
Left-of-center Le Monde held (12/31):
“Contrary to other African ‘dinosaurs’ who hold on to their
dictatorships...Daniel arap Moi has chosen to let go.... He has been promised Washington's support and
the guarantee that he will not be tried for past crimes. This was the condition for democratic change
in Kenya, a country twice targeted by international terrorism. The United States for its part has chosen to
back Kenya's future, thus acknowledging Kenya as an ally in its post-Sept. 11
battle against terror.”
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau
opined (12/30): "The people of
Kenya took advantage of their opportunity to do away with an unloved and
corrupt regime. The vote in favor of the
'rainbow' coalition is a revolt and promises to invigorate the political
process.... If the coalition manages to
contain corruption, teachers and police officers could receive regular pay in
the future. Kenya's new president can
count on international support for his reform plans, but the road ahead remains
IRELAND: "An Agenda
The liberal Irish Times opined (1/2), "The result
offers an opportunity for Kenyans to re-position their country to where it once
was-- the success story of post-colonial Africa. It will take some doing.... The new president, Mr Mwai Kibaki, has yet to
announce his cabinet which is not surprising when within his coalition there
are so many parties jostling for power and perks. This is as fragile as coalitions get. United
only by a common enemy, it runs the risk of fracturing over the spoils of
victory. The new cabinet is certain also
to have its share of unsavoury elements....
The hope must be that the NARC government will live up to its promise to
eradicate corruption, grow the economy and tackle meaningfully the AIDS pandemic.
The European Union and the IMF must move quickly to restore aid. Former donor
countries should reconsider their ban and perhaps grant Mr Kibaki's government
the benefit of the doubt. Kenya cannot solve its problems alone."
NORWAY: "An Election
Result In The Interest Of Kenya"
Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten held (12/30), "If
President Kibaki manages to secure stability and progress in Kenya he can make
the country to a role model for the whole continent. In that case the clear result and prospect of
a calm change in power has an importance far, far beyond the country's own
CANADA: "Kenya's New
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press asserted (1/2): "The
new year begins with a new light shining in Africa. This week in elections in Kenya, a corrupt
and long-lasting quasi-dictatorship was overthrown by voters in what
international observers described as the fairest ballot in Kenya in many
years.... The country's new president, Mwai Kibaki, was sworn into office on
Monday. His National Rainbow Coalition has a solid majority--at least 122 of
the 210 seats in Kenya's parliament.... There would seem to be, then, no excuse
for Mr. Kibaki if he fails to keep his promises of reform, his pledge to root
out the corruption that has turned Kenya from the jewel of Africa into one of
its basket cases. Canada, the United
States, Europe, the international lending agencies are eager, they are anxious,
to help Kenya get back on its feet, to become once again what it was always
expected to be--the light to which the rest of Africa could look as an example
of how to achieve post-independence prosperity and freedom. It was only the corruption and the
authoritarianism of Mr. Moi's regime that prevented that help from coming to
Kenyans. Mr. Kibaki has inherited a dark and dirty house from Mr. Moi, but if
he moves quickly to clean it, he will find many willing hands to help