THE mayhem that killed hundreds of people following Kenya's election on December 27th completes a depressing cycle of democratic abuses in Africa's biggest countries. Nigeria held its own mockery of an election last April. Scores were killed and observers pronounced it the most fraudulent poll they had ever witnessed. Congo held a more or less peaceful election in October 2006, since when the main opposition leader has been hounded into exile. And the year before that, flawed elections in Ethiopia resulted in the deaths of 199 protesters. Needless to say, the incumbents all won.
So it is easy to be angry, as well as gloomy, about African leaders' continual betrayal of the democratic values they say they hold so dear. And all the more so in the case of Kenya, which has a strong tradition of holding elections, a vibrant political culture, a relatively free press and a sophisticated economy. Given all these advantages, as we wrote before the election, Kenya had an opportunity to “set an example” to Africa and hold free and fair elections. But the country blew it.
Or, more precisely, the political elite blew it. A small cabal of politicians almost certainly stole the result by fraud...
No time to be nice
Initially, America, which sees Kenya as a front-line ally in a war against Islamist militias in neighbouring Somalia, made the mistake of endorsing the president's re-election [shame on the State Department!]. Now Britain, America and the African Union are urging Mr Odinga and Mr Kibaki to talk in an effort to stop the bloodletting. That lets Mr Kibaki off the hook far too easily. All the violence should certainly be condemned, but most of the diplomatic pressure should be exerted on Mr Kibaki's supposed new government to annul the results and organise a recount—or a new vote.
If Mr Kibaki will not do this, the rest of the world should suspend direct aid to his regime and impose a travel ban on his officials. That is the least the wretched people of Kenya have a right to expect from their friends abroad.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The Economist on the Fraudulent Elections of Kenya
In an article that succinctly describes the post-election situation in Kenya, the Economist calls a spade a spade and urges friends of Kenyans to stand with them. Read on:
Posted by enset at 1:44 PM