In Summary
  • Dr Korir Sing’Oei, legal adviser to Deputy President William Ruto, sounded some of the few discordant notes at an event characterised by polite consensus.

  • His critical comments aimed at Raila Odinga contrasted with Mr Carson's favourable remarks about the Nasa leader.

  • Mr Carson quoted Mr Odinga as having said in regard to the electoral process, “You can't do the same thing the same way and expect different results.” The former envoy added, “You know something? He's right.”

Kenya's democracy and economy are both exhibiting strength and resilience despite the disruptions and dangers arising from the current electoral process, speakers at a Washington forum have said.

“We have seen positive movement in Kenya's democratic progression over the last decade and a half,” declared Johnnie Carson, a retired US ambassador to Kenya who also held the top Africa post at the State Department during the first Obama administration.

REFORMS

He cited a series of reforms, including adoption of the 2010 Constitution, devolution of political decision-making and diminution of presidential power, a “decrease in electoral violence,” a growing willingness to take electoral disputes to court and “the emergence of a more independent and courageous judiciary.”

Mr Carson and the six other panellists taking part in a half-day “Spotlight on Kenya” conference at a Washington think tank also acknowledged that ongoing electoral uncertainties pose risks of political and economic destabilisation.

But Mr Carson offered reassurance that “democracy is messy, and Kenya's is no exception.”

Dr Korir Sing’Oei, legal adviser to Deputy President William Ruto, sounded some of the few discordant notes at an event characterised by polite consensus.

RAILA

His critical comments aimed at Raila Odinga contrasted with Mr Carson's favourable remarks about the Nasa leader.

Mr Carson quoted Mr Odinga as having said in regard to the electoral process, “You can't do the same thing the same way and expect different results.” The former envoy added, “You know something? He's right.”

Dr Sing'Oei accused Mr Odinga of irresponsible behaviour.

“The uncritical adulation of opposition leader Raila Odinga by the international community has made his conduct to lack any sense of proportionality,” Dr Sing'Oei said.

He also criticised the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the August 8 election, saying it sets “a very worrying standard because democracy is essentially about the vote.”

JUDICIARY

The court had acted on the basis of a technological failure in transmission of results while not rejecting the actual outcome recorded at polling stations, Dr Sing'Oei noted.

“What this ruling has done is to make it almost impossible to deliver a credible election,” he warned.

“It is indeed feasible that there is the potential for endless petitions,” causing “chaos, confusion, anarchy,” Dr Sing'Oei said.

“At what point do we say enough is enough?”

John Tomaszewski, Africa director for the International Republican Institute, suggested that a ruling focused on an election process rather than on voting results themselves could have ramifications throughout Africa.

MEDIA

Mr Tomaszewski, whose organisation seeks to promote democratic norms outside the US, offered a negative appraisal of Kenyan media's coverage of the August 8 voting.

“The media has to answer some questions,” he said, pointing to self-censorship prompted by pressures from political powers.

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