Turkish Journal of International Relations

Turkish Journal of International Relations

Volume 1, Number 4, Winter 2002


Kenyan Elections 2002: The End of Machiavellian Politics?
By Mohammed Bakari



On the 27th of December, 2002, Kenyans went to the polls to elect a 210 member National Assembly.This was Kenya's 8th election in the last 40 years as an independent state.For all these years , the government was dominated by the ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU). Infact through a series of strategies, KANU had managed to perpetuate itself in power as a de facto, and later, a de jure , one party state.With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, politics and states in much of the world was transformed in many ways.In Kenya, the early nineties ushered in a serious opposition movement , the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy, which was an alliance of disgruntled politicians, young political idealists and other groups that were yearning for change from the autocratic politics of Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi and the power elite.The most prominent among these was the veteran politician and one time Kenyan Vice President and with populist tendencies, Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga.The mass movement, which by and large played by the rules, wanted to dismantle the notorious Section 2 (A) of the Constitution of Kenya which barred the formation of other political parties.But the winds of change in the early nineties were so violent and irreversable that the incumbent government had to bow down to increasing internal pressure from its opponents, and external pressure from international donar agencies , powerful foreign governments and human rights organizations like the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. All these pressures did finally pay off when KANU revoked the relevant clause in the constitution to pave the way for the politics of multipartism.If it were not for the constant wranggling within the opposition ranks, KANU could easily have been dislodged from its dominant position in 1992.But it was not to be.The opposition parties were fragmented, largely thanks to the strategy of KANU throwing spanners in the opposition works and the buying off of potential politicians who posed a threat to KANU stranglehold on power.As it turned out, KANU won the 1992 election through fair and foul means and the opposition lost the chance of writing a new chapter in Kenyan politics.Because KANU had the resources and the infrastructure to organize themselves, they were able to repeat their success in the sunsequent election in 1997, though with a considerably reduced majority in Parliament.

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