Is E. Africa’s democ­racy now at a cross­roads?

None of the East African coun­tries have es­caped the spec­tre of elec­toral fraud, vi­o­lence and public mis­trust

The East African - - NEWS - By PETER MUNAITA The Eastafrican

In Uganda, the Na­tional Re­sis­tance Move­ment’s su­per ma­jor­ity is push­ing through an amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion to do away with pres­i­den­tial age lim­its, 12 years af­ter the coun­try re­moved term lim­its.

It will take some con­vinc­ing that the change, though within the law, is not de­signed to help Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni, who would be age-barred by the time of the next elec­tion, re­main in power.

In Kenya the Ju­bilee Party is tak­ing ad­van­tage of its ma­jor­ity in both houses of Par­lia­ment to change elec­toral laws in its favour ahead of the Oc­to­ber 26 re­peat pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as the op­po­si­tion em­barks on mass ac­tion.

While some changes seek­ing to hold re­turn­ing and pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers ac­count­able for their con­duct dur­ing elec­tions are timely, it is those touch­ing on tech­nol­ogy and the cir­cum­stances un­der which a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion can be nul­li­fied that have proved con­tro­ver­sial. Rea­son? The im­me­di­ate ben­e­fi­ciary of th­ese will be Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta whose vic­tory in the Au­gust 8 poll was in­val­i­dated by the Supreme Court be­cause elec­toral laws were not fol­lowed to the let­ter; lapses which the in­cum­bent and the elec­toral com­mis­sion de­fended as mere ad­min­is­tra­tive over­sights that do not war­rant re­peat­ing the poll.

Th­ese events fell in the same week as Diane Rwigara who was barred from con­test­ing against Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame in their Au­gust 4 elec­tion and is due to face pros­e­cu­tion in Rwanda on var­i­ous charges af­ter a week be­hind bars.

Nine other op­po­si­tion party fig­ures ar­rested around the same time are wait­ing to know their fate even as Rwanda sought to re­but as­ser­tions made at a US Con­gres­sional hear­ing that in­tol­er­ance of dis­sent was ris­ing in the coun­try.

Over in Burundi, un­ex­plained dis­ap­pear­ances, ha­rass­ment of the me­dia and Pres­i­dent Pierre Nku­run­z­iza’s crit­ics have continued since the con­tro­ver­sial 2015 elec­tions when the coun­try’s top court ruled that the in­cum­bent was yet to serve his sec­ond term un­der the law. The Pres­i­dent has been in power since 2005.

In Tan­za­nia, a bea­con of un­in­ter­rupted trans­fer of power in East Africa, there is a nig­gling sus­pi­cion that Pres­i­dent John Pombe Magu­fuli who was elected two years ago this month could

At the re­ceiv­ing end have been civil so­ci­ety, free me­dia and po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, cour­tesy of su­per ma­jor­ity MPS’ sup­port for in­cum­bents

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.