What happened in Kenya a few years back could best be described as a demonstration of the selfishness of some African politicians who are always bent on exploiting a given situation in an effort to satisfy their political aims. As was in Zimbabwe where an opposition Movement For Democratic Change party won an election but the ruling party refusing to hand over power, in Kenya Raila Odinga claimed he won the elections in Kenya in 2007 but the validity of his claims are still questionable as he is known to be a man hungry for power and would do anything to assume the presidency. There are reports claiming he incited the unrests that nearly saw Kenya falling into anarchy.
This led to hundreds of people being killed in post election violence, and the end result was a power sharing agreement between the ruling and opposition parties. This power sharing arrangement has been on for months, and like Zimbabwe also where the opposition and ruling party are sharing power, there have been challenges. With African politics, it is often difficult for a ruling party to totally accept political defeat at the polls. However there are few exceptions especially in countries like Sierra Leone, Ghana and South Africa where there has been peaceful transfer of power from one democratic government to the other.
In Nigeria, we have seen how post election violence often lead to the death of several people, and no need to refer to Guinea in the West African sub region where the word ‘democracy’ is hardly understood by its citizens. I once underscored that when we attempt to test the pulse of African democracies, it would be obvious that most African states are not prepared to appreciate the true meaning of democracy and good governance. Elections in Kenya are scheduled to happen in the next three years but tension appears to be high between two rival communities in the country.
A recent BBC investigation is said to have found that rival ethnic groups are re-arming themselves ahead of the 2012 elections. A deputy Internal Affairs Minister had promised that action shall be taken by the Police in Kenya. And this is happening at a time when Kofi Annan is in the country to further look at what progress has been made so far in investigating the unrests that led to the 2007 post election violence.
It should be underscored that the issue of impunity must first be handled in cases where there is post election violence. Take a look at what happened in Kenya, after the 2007 elections, much has not been done to address the factors that led to the unrests. The culture of impunity has always gained serious attention when it comes to addressing Africa’s political system. But there are lessons to be learnt from what has happened in countries like Kenya and Nigeria as far as post election issues are concerned.
Firstly, politicians should always be prepared to accept the verdict of the people. If that had happened in Kenya there was no need for the killing of over 1000 people immediately the results were announced in 2007. Regional bodies like the African Union, and the United Nations should be proactive in establishing preventative measure. The latest BBC report should be used as a tool to put measures in place that would prevent any future post election violence, and the African Union has a stake to play in that direction.
From a general perspective, one should not hesitate to state that the people of Kenya will live up to expectations because when there is a major political disaster, it is the people who will suffer and they should therefore remember their bloody past. The government should also be worried over what the BBC has uncovered, and they must now be serious in addressing all the areas of concern.
President Kibaki and Raila Odinga must face the issue head on and they should be seen working as a people to ensure their rival ethnic groups don’t take the country to it recent past bloody history. When this and several measures are taken, then it will indicate that the people of Kenya will live up to expectations.
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