Kenya’s contested election continue to be a source of political friction. After the courts ruled that the first round of the elections was tainted, an equally flawed second round was held. In both cases, the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta emerged as the winner.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga had boycotted the second round after evidence surfaced of political interference in the workings of the election commission. He has spoken of forming a parallel government complete with a swearing-in ceremony. This has led to warnings by the Kenyatta government that such a ceremony would lead to Odinga’s arrest. More telling is that the international community has now begun to swing in Kenyatta’s favour with the United States being the latest to urge Odinga to accept the results.
Despite these problems, Kenya’s election was a milestone for Africa as it saw a ruling party accept the decision of a court to negate an entire election result. A similar judicial intervention occurred in Liberia which had the second round of its presidential elections delayed by the Supreme Court. The second round will now go ahead later this month with the inexperienced but internationally famous ex-footballer George Weah expected to win over food inflation concerns.
This coming year will see a number of other African states going to the polls. Some of them, like Sierra Leone, are expected to be genuinely democratic. Others, like the one scheduled in Cameroon, will be entirely predictable. South Sudan’s election may not happen given the state of continuing civil war in that country. Zimbabwe’s coming election will be closely watched following this year’s overthrow of the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, but it is expected to do see Mugabe’s own party, ZANU-PF, coming back to power with a new face.
December 30, 2017