Kenyan Government Deliberates over Political Pluralism, Fearing Ethnic Strife

Article excerpt

Regarding the article "Kenyan Officials Launch Talks With Critics," July 24: Debate has intensified in Kenya over certain aspects of our political system: the way in which we conduct elections, the method of selecting and electing candidates, and adoption of a multi-party system vs. the present one-party system.

These issues have been reported in the local and international press, and the government's position regarding the country's political system has utilized this debate. These objectives, in some cases, have been riven by a narrowly defined tribal agenda which could threaten the security and prosperity that Kenya has maintained over the years. The threat of these divisive tribal factors forms the basis of Kenya's fears that a multi-party political system may result in ethnic strife.

President Daniel arap Moi has emphasized that the concept of a multi-party system has never been ruled out. A statement by the government of Kenya stresses that "the door is not closed to political pluralism in Kenya, but the choice of what kind of political system Kenyans want, and the timing ... must be left to the people of Kenya to decide.

Responding to the demands of the people, the Kenya Africa National Union (KANU) delegates' conference, the National Governing Council, and the National Executive Committee unanimously approved the creation of a 10-person committee to review the following: a) the queuing system of voting in primary elections; b) the 70 percent nomination rule; c) expulsion of party members; and, d) the creation of mechanisms for expression of dissimilar views.

Kenya believes change must come gradually, in carefully modulated processes whereby people and systems are protected from those who might wish to take advantage of change. …