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Raila: Why elections and democracies are failing in Africa

Azimio la Umoja – One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga has expressed concern over the challenges that some countries in Africa are going through to build their democracy.

According to Mr Odinga, some African leaders who were once inspired hope have now become a new generation of African strongmen and tyrants.

“They preside over de facto of one party states that do not allow for self-government and have no established mechanisms for a peaceful transfer of power,” Mr Odinga said on Tuesday in Nigeria during the 2022 Leadership Conference and Awards.

Mr Odinga said some countries that have been ruled by dictators are still riling from the impact of the authoritarian regime as they struggle to begin afresh.

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He said elections and democracies are failing in Africa because an organized-elites who are keen on protecting their narrow interests are remaining in power through the formation of strategic alliances.

“In a number of countries, we are witnessing situations in which the majority is increasingly at the mercy of the minority with regard to free, fair, transparent and credible elections,” he said.

The Azimio leader said that Africans who wake up early in the morning to queue to vote, only to end up being told that their votes are not counted, hence, won’t count in search of a change in leadership.

He singled out Kenya as a country that has improved democratically but has compromised elections in its last two elections by interfering with the final results.

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“We have seen the evolution of electoral laws, to allow representatives, and political parties to independently tally the results and transmit them to the party tallying centre. But as we have seen in Kenya both in 2017 and 2022, technology is getting compromised and results altered,” Mr Odinga said.

He said that Gallup poll opinion results had indicated that 64 per cent of Kenyans did not have confidence in the honesty of the election during its preparation for the August 2022 elections.

Mr Odinga now says there is a need to rethink the use of technology; that it’s either they adopt a reliable election technology including voting machines or go fully use the manual voting process.

The former Prime Minister said there is a need to debate on centralization of election management, or whether should it be devolved to states, regions, or counties like in the US.

“If Africa’s elite autocrats are uniting against free and fair elections, African democrats must also unite and defend democracy,” Mr Odinga said.

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