Today the former President of Zambia Rupiah Banda gave a keynote address at a conference in Kenya, where he urged the Kenyan voters to follow his example and put the public good above private interests and to maintain peace during the upcoming March 4th presidential elections.
Kenya, which experienced devastating tribal violence in 2008-2009 following a narrow election victory by the incumbent, will be the first African nation to hold a presidential election in 2013. After having served two terms, the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki will be stepping down, opening up the opportunity for new leadership. In 2011, President Banda lost a narrow election to President Michael Sata and stepped down, bringing an end to 20 years rule by his party, the Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
Speaking at a two-day conference titled Elections March 2013: Imminent debates in the event of a Presidential run-off, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi today, President Banda said it was important to ensure that democratic systems were respected.
According to a press release distributed to media outlets by his office, former President Banda told a packed conference that "African democracy was taking root" and urged the media to highlight electoral success with the same vigour that they reported on failed elections.
The former President also urged young Africans to strive towards creating an environment in which leaders and their followers would not have to worry about retribution if they lost elections to their competitors.
Felix Odhiambo, the country director for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Ahmed Hassan and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), complimented President Banda as a "true democrat." Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Johan Borgstam said he hoped the Kenyan people would "learn from President Banda's experience and prepare well for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections set for 4th March 2013."
The two-day conference has been organised by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa in partnership with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Kenyan Judiciary and the Kenyatta University School of Law.