Kenya’s Questionable Electoral Process

African Elephant

Uhuru Kenyatta has won. That’s what Kenyan newspapers are ready to print. But the international community is suspicious. Many are claiming voting error on account of a computer bug. Others are pointing out irregularities in voting due to violent outbreaks recorded all over the country.

There had been serious worry about this election due to “ethnic violence that left more than 1,100 people dead after the last election in 2007.” Fortunately, these numbers were drastically reduced this time around. Nonetheless, incidents were reported of “the presence of weapons and hate speech, and insufficient law enforcement,” as well as queue jumping and unnecessarily long lines. In a reportedly fair and free election, it is a shame to see such regular limitations to the democratic process taking place, and it leads to greater questions of if Kenyatta rightfully earned the position. At this time “vote-tallying has been restarted by hand following this and other glitches but Uhuru Kenyatta still has a large lead over Prime Minister Raila Odinga.”

Now the United States is left to decide on a plan of action toward the probable president. Kenyatta in the past “has been charged with heinous crimes, accused of using a vast fortune to bankroll death squads that slaughtered women and children.” For obvious reasons, the U.S. is hesitant to support such a man, despite the desire to validate the democratic process.

The question now: “does the United States put a premium on its commitment to justice and ending impunity — as it has emphasized across the continent — and distance itself from Mr. Kenyatta should he clinch this election? Or would that put at risk all the other strategic American interests vested in Kenya, a vital ally in a volatile region and a crucial hub for everything from billion-dollar health programs and American corporations to spying on agents of Al Qaeda?” There are worries by Kenyan nationals that Kenyatta could obtain a ‘Mugabe factor,’ becoming villainized by the international community for his history.

For now its seems as if the bottom line is that Kenya has had a (largely) successful election. The elected leader may have had a notably criminal past. But at the same time, it may be best to be optimistic towards his forthcoming term, and hope he has Kenya and its people’s ultimate growth and well-being in mind.

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