Letter: Kenyan elections and the 'monitoring' that undermines democracy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your editorial 'The Commonwealth fails Kenya' and Richard Dowden's article 'Kenya election protests 'justified' ' (both on 25 January) demand comment.

According to the law, the registration of voters is done for a specific period prior to the election. The law was followed to the letter. You seem to suggest that we should disregard the rule of law and adopt an open-ended approach to registering voters.

I challenge you to name the individual opposition candidates you claim were kidnapped or detained to prevent them being nominated. Repetition of false claims helps neither those who initiated them nor the country. Surely you know that rigging has become a buzzword for any unsuccessful candidate.

Justice Chesoni was and is the chairman of an electoral commission composed of a cross-section of commissioners. The decisions taken were therefore not his alone and even if there had been a different chairperson, it would not have led to a different result. The outcome reflects the people's will.

State radio and television and the Kanu party paper were free to give coverage to the political activities of the opposition parties and they did. What is undemocratic and unacceptable is your implication that the government should have expressly ordered the network to give equal coverage regardless of the newsworthiness of the events. Besides, the private media networks such as Kenya Television Network, Standard Newspapers, the Nation Group and many magazines have given coverage to whoever has had anything newsworthy to say.

It is the Kenyans who cast their votes for the various elected leaders and it is they, not the international community, who have to live with the result. The peaceful, determined, patient and vigilant conduct of the Kenyan voters both during and after the elections speaks volumes.

If the result had not reflected their will, the call to rise up and fight by the major opposition leaders would have been answered. Instead, they told the trio to go to parliament and help to strengthen democracy from there. In their own suspicious and watchful way, Kenyans proved their best monitors and observers.

The message of the Kenyan people is clear and the international community should take heed and give the necessary support. Moving goalposts at this hour will cast doubt on its credibility and diminish its otherwise positive contribution to democracy and development.

Yours sincerely,

M. NGALI

Acting High Commissioner

Kenya High Commission

London, W1

25 January

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