19 January 2013

Kenya: Party Nominations Betrayed Democracy


This week political parties held highly charged nominations for various seats. The nominations undertaken by the two main coalitions, Cord and Jubilee, were of particular interest.

This is due to the fact that whoever clinched either coalition's ticket in the areas where they hold sway is almost guaranteed of winning the seat of their choice come the March 4th General Election.

But as expected, the nominations were not without drama. On sensing defeat or foul play some of the aspirants decamped to little known parties to secure tickets on which to vie for various seats.

These belated defections are part of the issues that the Political Parties Act was supposed to address and even consign to history. For a leader to pledge allegiance to one party today but at the last minute turn around and claim to have shifted his or her support to another party smacks of indiscipline. It is this indiscipline that has afflicted Kenyan politics for far too long even though it is perfectly legal under current legislation.

Meanwhile both the Cord and Jubilee coalitions gave some candidates direct nominations to vie for various seats. Key political figures including some cabinet ministers are among those who benefited from this.

This happened despite the fact that there were other aspirants who wanted to vie for the same seats on the coalitions' tickets. For coalitions that have been fronting their democratic credentials to act in a manner that is diametrically opposed to democracy is worrying indeed. It is an unwarranted assault to democracy and should be denounced in the strongest terms possible.

Perhaps the best definition of democracy is that it is a 'government by the people, of the people and for the people'. This means that the electorate should have the final say in deciding who should be their leader.

The trend where a few people sit in a boardroom somewhere and decide who should be a party's flag-bearer in a certain area is not only unacceptable but an inexcusable betrayal of the tenets of democracy.

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