East Africa

Kenyans vote new leaders tomorrow

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Kenyans will tomorrow vote for a new president, MPs, senators, governors as well as county and women representatives.

Mr Peter Kenneth, Ms Martha Karua, Mr Raila Odinga, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr Mohammed Dida, Mr Paul Muite and Mr James ole Kiyiapi have been vote hunting to replace Mwai Kibaki as president.

The elections will be a culmination of demands made in the1990s for political reforms, a new Constitution and reduction of the president’s power, which critics say was abused by post-colonial leaders Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi in distributing of national resources.

Political observers say Mr Kibaki, who had reneged on a gentleman’s agreement to serve for one term, but is standing down upon completing the second, signifies a lot.

Some observers say the transition from Kibaki to either Odinga or Kenyatta, the two frontrunners in the race, should influence political processes in Uganda.

Lessons for Uganda
Mr Crispy Kaheru, the project coordinator, Citizens Coalition for
Electoral Democracy in Uganda, says there are good values to be picked,
especially now that Uganda’s 2016 general polls are drawing closer.

He said Uganda could start by strengthening electoral institutions,
respecting them, restoring presidential term limits and poll reforms.
He says many Ugandans are getting restive having woken up to the reality that peaceful nights do not mean there are drugs in the hospitals, the roads are passable and that there is food on the table.

Will the transition from Kibaki to a new leader influence political developments in Uganda?

Dr Fredrick Kisekka-Ntale, a political analyst, says: “Not everything that succeeds in one State can be replicated in another. The principles could be different.”

He says, whereas Kenyan politicians go into alliances to marshal the numbers, Ugandan politicians believe their parties would be weakened if they collaborate.

Opportunities for change at the top are also more available in Kenya as opposed to Uganda whose history of civil strife entrenched a quasi-one-
party State, whose leadership was essentially predetermined, on the country for long.

Similarly, it remains a fact of Uganda’s political landscape that the army usually influences election outcomes over and above whatever geo-political interests may be vested in the process.

Desirous as the event in Kenya may be, the political cultures and personalities of the leaders of the two States, among other factors, are different.
Even in Kenya, only time will tell whether the leaders after Kibaki will live up to the ideals enshrined in their Constitution.

Uganda has institutions of good governance, which, however, are eclipsed by the larger than life political leaders.

According to Mr David Mafabi, the private secretary for political affairs at State House, there is little to pick from Kenya because it is grappling with the same challenges such as tribalism, which Uganda faces.


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