Kenya’s presidential and parliamentary elections, set to take place on March 4th, will most likely be destabilizing forces for the nation, just as previous elections have been.
In the last Kenyan elections five years ago, 1,300 people died and 600,000 were displaced. This was due in large part to the dominance of ethnic tribes in all facets of Kenyan culture, including politics.
All three of the major contenders in the Kenyan presidential election this year are powerful among certain tribes. Kenyatta is almost guaranteed the vote of his Kikuyu tribe which makes up 21% of Kenya’s population. His main challenger, Odinga, holds the support of the Luo making up 10% of the Kenyan population. Their main third party challenger, Mudavadi, has power with the Kuhya comprising 19% of Kenya’s population. In Kenya, entire tribes vote for the same candidates. Therefore, when a party loses an election, it signals a loss for the tribe too, which has prompted ethnic violence following previous elections.
Another reason for instability following the last Kenyan election was the lack of transparency.
Recently, evidence has emerged showing evidence of corruption by each of the major parties in the election. These counts include vote buying and attempts at voter fraud. In short, despite observance by major international groups, the elections in Kenya will not be transparent by any stretch of imagination.
This is especially critical given that Odinga, the current prime minister and head of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy, said that he will dispute the results of the election if they are not fair. Essentially, if he is not elected president, he will challenge the results. After all, his major opposition, Kenyatta of the Jubilee alliance, will mist likely come neck-and-neck with Odinga in the election. Odinga will have significant merit, given the corruption in the election, to challenge the results but doing so will only further Kenya’s political paralysis.
As such, I propose that Kenya get rid of the post of president from its nation; Kenya already has a prime minister whose role can be strengthened without a president. With only a prime minister leading the executive branch, Kenya will be less bureaucratic.. Additionally, since the prime minister would be elected by the parliament itself as opposed to the general electorate, there would be less chances of election fraud or bribery. There would also, as a result, be less violence following Kenyan elections.
Though a more limited form of democracy, parliamentary democracies are by their very nature more stable and less bureaucratic. Additionally, in Kenya, a major flaw in elections is that voters are ill-educated of the issues. Members of Parliament would be able to make better election choices for the nation as a whole instead of voting along tribal lines. A more expanded form of democracy can only be pursued in Kenya when it achieves greater political, social, and ethnic stability.