Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Democracy Holding in Kenya

A proposed new constitution was rejected in Kenya in a vote on Monday. The Washington Post article on the event discusses the test that this vote placed on the country’s democratic stability. The campaign leading to the election had been heated, but the election itself proved mostly peaceful. Much of the controversy was based in a division between tribal cultures. During the campaigns, sides sometimes became violent with each other, resulting in the deaths of 9 people during rallies.

The proposed constitution would have given massive amounts of power to the current president, Mwai Kibaki. Although he was, obviously, a strong supporter of the proposed constitution, he has accepted the vote as the will of the people and will not challenge it.

President Mwai Kibaki was elected for a fresh start after an autocratic rule. The proposed constitution would have given him more power and he would have been able to appoint cabinet members from his own tribal affiliations. However, because of this vote, he will be required to include members from opposing opinions and tribes. Therefore, his power will be greatly reduced. The people of Kenya, with the rejection of this constitution, have shown that they want more of an actual democracy, rather than an all-powerful ruler.

I think this is a good sign for Kenya, and Africa, in general. This is very promising when looking at the country’s stability. Even though there were strong opinions on both sides of the campaign, the people have let the vote stand. The people may have not yet figured out the most effective way to campaign, but they do understand the voting system and that the votes dictate the decisions. If Kenya can transform into a democratic society, it is possible that other African societies may be able to do the same.

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