Multi-Party Politics in Kenya: The Kenyatta & Moi States & the Triumph of the System in the 1992 Election

By David W. Throup; Charles Hornsby | Go to book overview
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Numerous improvements are also required in election monitoring. The Kenyan experience was in many ways a salutary one. Although the election was held and did not result in bloodshed, it seems that the objectives of the monitoring groups were either unclear, unlikely to be followed up in practice, or confused by their own multiplicity. A previously published standard for electoral contests certainly would have clarified the numerous different interpretations of 'free and fair'. Beyond this, it was a waste of resources and a source of great confusion to have so many independent monitoring groups and bodies, producing at least eight reports on the basis of different experiences. 'The West was determined that there be a multi-party election, and that was what it got. What they could not do was to enforce fairness in a situation where the government was determined to win. As Joel Barkan (a USAID official and key figure in the transmission of aid to the observer groups) also argued, the Kenyan elections exposed the limits of the donor community's ability to promote democratic reform. He noted that election monitoring can only be meaningful if it covers basic administrative issues, such as constituency boundaries and electoral law.189 The observer groups' expectations were simultaneously too high and too low. They were too high in that they had not properly prepared or been funded to monitor cleverly organised, focused electoral manipulation. They were too low in that they were willing to accept the appearance of fairness without inquiring too far into the reality.While the majority of the observer groups, both internal and external, viewed the election as a first key step on the road to greater openness, the evidence suggests, rather, that it was the high-point: 1992 is the closest that the opposition will get to defeating KANU in its current form.
Notes
1. See, for example, the views of foreign newsmen and observers at election time, as in the EJU Kenya Quarterly Review, No. 1, 1993, Julian Ozanne in the Financial Times, 31 December 1992, and the Norwegian report, B-A Andreasen, G. Geisler and A. Tostensen , A Hobbled Democracy: The Kenya General Elections 1992 p. 31.
2. When DP ex-Ministers continued in private to insist that they would never be led by an uncircumcised man, it suggests a real ill will, not just a disagreement over tactics. Private conversation, December 1992.
3. In the two Lamu seats, for example, such cases were running at a rate only one to three per polling station. Observer reports, NEMU, Lamu constituencies.
4. National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act, Cap. 7, p. 35. The NEMU Report draft identified that in 35 of the 107 seats where they observed the count, no such statement was made. NEMU Report draft, p. 233.
5. Kenya Times, 30 December 1992, p. 3.
6. Julian Ozanne, Financial Times, 31 December 1992.
7. The Daily Nation headlined on New Year's Day, "'Kenya Set for Minority Government'", Daily Nation, 1 January 1993, p. 1.
8. See Charles Hornsby, "The Member of Parliament in Kenya, 1969-83', unpublished D.Phil. thesis, Oxford, 1986, Chapter 5.
9. In Nyeri, there was concern about pro-DP intimidation and campaigning, and KANU petitioned five of the six seats after the poll.
10. Tabitha Seii, in Society 28 September 1992, p. 38.

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