While there are many weaknesses and abnormalities in the Kenyan democracy, we can see that the basic democratic foundations have been laid. On December 27th 2007 Kenyan voters turned up in droves across the country; their democratic vote and its effect is very important to them, which is one reason why the repercussions of the results were so bad: Kenyans felt cheated out of a democratic right that had meant so much to them. And in other divisions of the country the framework for a stable democracy has existed and fought to remain for over 40 years: the well-established press (that is, albeit, intermittently bought by politicians, but is still, for the most part, fair), the proliferation of non-governmental organisations and the fact that despite all the disorder following the results of the elections parliament still managed to eventually open. Despite all personal problems with the President all elected members of parliament, including more than 100 opposition members, still proceeded to swear an oath of allegiance to the President, because despite the disintegrating situation, they still realised that the best way to propagate change is through democratic means, from within, and through, the system. Arguably the most fundamental aspect of a democracy is ‘rule by the people’; and the only real aspect we have of that in modern liberal democracies is the electoral vote. To prevent this vote from being simply a farce, a mere formality giving citizens the misconception that they have any control over their nation, free and fair elections have to be emphasised and prioritised. If we look at the events following the December 2007 elections; to be internationally recognised as having rigged elections, for such dispute following questionably accurate results is a shame to any democracy. Even worse is the violence and upheaval that followed the results, as people took up arms under the encouragement and incitement of their leaders, instead of taking up their concerns through constitutional means like the court or electoral commission (though as we have already established, these are not trusted or respected anyway). This unfortunate situation alone is enough to imbalance however many other stable democratic institutions Kenya has, and is the true indicator that democracy still has some way to go in Kenya.
Maya Sikand (Kenya, AC06-08)
– United World College Student Magazine –