Election Fraud and Riots in Kenya Part I
The relatively successful country of Kenya in East Africa has recently received a lot of negative attention in the mass media. Cars and homes set on fire and raging crowds throwing stones and swinging long knives have dominated the news for weeks. Many are amazed at this development. The image of Kenya as a stable, young democracy has cracked.
- What has happened in Kenya?
- Who is up against whom in Kenya?
- Why has it exploded now?
Apparently, the unrest began after the election on December 27, 2007. President, parliament and municipal council were to be elected on the same day. Kenya has a distinct presidential government where the president is both head of state and head of government and has broad powers under the constitution. Therefore, interest was concentrated on the presidential election. Prior to the election, there was an intense election campaign between the two most important candidates: incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and challenger Raila Odinga .
A third candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, also stood for election, as well as six others of little importance. A new phenomenon in Kenya was regular opinion polls throughout the autumn, from three different institutes. The polls varied a bit as opinion polls tend to do, but mostly showed that Odinga had a head start and would probably win. This created great expectations among his followers.
2: The election in 2007
The party system in Kenya is unstable, if one can even talk about a party system. It is very easy to form a new party and get it registered. There are a myriad of registered parties, about 130, but not all were active in the election campaign. Coalitions are formed that last for a while and often break down later, especially after an election. Before the 2007 election, two competing main associations of parties were formed:
- Party of National Unity (PNU) led by incumbent President Kibaki and
- Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), led by Odinga. A third force of some significance was the Orange Democratic Movement – Kenya (ODM-K), led by Musyoka.
The electoral system is such that the candidate who receives the most votes is elected. In other words, an absolute majority is not required, ie 50 per cent or more. To become president, one must also be elected as a member of parliament. In addition, you must have at least 25 percent of the votes in 5 of the 8 provinces in the country. The latter requirement is intended to ensure a certain representativeness on a national basis – ie a certain geographical and thus ethnic breadth in the representation.
In the nomination process , there was a lot of violence. Being elected to parliament pays off because the monthly salary is about 64,000 kroner. In addition, there are a number of supplements for transport, representation etc. Kenyan parliamentarians are among the highest paid elected officials in the world. Then it is no wonder that many want to try, even if an election campaign costs a lot. Many were rejected by their respective parties, but they then turned to the small parties who were ready with the necessary nomination papers. The Election Act does not allow candidates who are independent of parties.
The 2007 election was the fourth since the reintroduction of a multi-party government in the early 1990s. All elections in Kenya are administered by an electoral commission with a secretariat – the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) – which is to be independent. The 21 commissioners are appointed by the president after consultation with the opposition. After much criticism for its handling of the elections in 1992, 1997 and 2002, ECK had built up a reputation as professional and reliable. The head of the Election Commission, Samuel Kivuitu, was considered a man of integrity and independence. Everything was in place for a free and fair choice.
3: Thorough election preparations
The election campaign was fierce and large sums of money were spent on public meetings, election materials such as balloons, hats, T-shirts, etc., as well as on advertising on radio and television and on giant posters of the candidates. Never before has so much money been spent on an election campaign in Kenya, a country located in Africa according to a2zgov.com, and many have questioned where this money came from. There are no restrictions on spending or contributions. On FM radio stations and television, there were countless programs and debates with the candidates and commentators. There were some approaches to election-related violence, especially in the nomination. In particular, it seemed to affect female candidates. But it was not large-scale political violence before the election. Election day itself went smoothly in most of the country.
Turnout was record high. The counting of votes took place in about 27,000 polling stations under the supervision of foreign and Kenyan observers, and under the watchful eyes of the party agents. The election officials had received thorough training and carried out their work conscientiously. The result was read out in each polling station and entered into a form signed by the party agents.