A lesson in democracy

November 5, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, October 5 – As Kenya celebrated Barack Obama’s victory, top politicians appealed to fellow leaders to learn from the US democratic process that saw John McCain concede defeat.

Speaking to thousands of people during a reception at the American Embassy, Trade Assistant Minister Omingo Magara said the Republican candidate demonstrated maturity.

“You must not rally your communities to fight after losing elections because losing is part of the competition, we are learning from the experience of America that losers can shake hands with the winners,” he said.

He further said a McCain defeat in America was an eye opener to the rest of the world in fighting tribalism and racism.

Mr Magara asked Kenyans to also learn from the losses of the 2007 elections and settle on peace as demonstrated by the McCain supporters.

“Let’s take a step back and think of the losses in the last elections, it is not civilisation to fight in every election, we haven’t seen it in America. Let’s mature and accept defeat,” he said.

He praised Mr McCain for not just conceding defeat, but also extending his hand to work with the President-elect to develop their country.

Water Minister Charity Ngilu advised Kenyans to demand that politicians clearly outline their agenda and not push ethnicity when seeking electoral office.

“You need to be looking at a person’s qualities and agenda if we are to get new leadership that can tackle the current global challenges,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Roads Assistant Minister Lee Kinyanjui who called on Kenyans to shun tribalism, which he said had denied them great leaders. “It does not matter where you come from or your age, what’s important is your vision for the people of Kenya.”

Kenya’s elections have in the past largely been decided along tribal lines something that has always been controversial and of concern to members of the civil society.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka who later joined the celebrations said Obama’s election will boost greater international peace and security.

He likewise appealed to Kenyans to support and practice democracy which he however said will be reflected and made into reality by delivering a new constitution.

Mr Kalonzo further said Obama’s victory will strengthen the existing cordial relations with America owing to his Kenyan origin.

By 4.45am in Kenya, politicians, members of the civil society, diplomats, the media, religious leaders, top business executives, secondary and university students had already lined up outside the US Ambassador’s residence to watch and celebrate the Obama win.

Despite watching the elections on big television screens, people were invited to vote for either for the two candidates to help them learn the voting system of America.

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger who led the people to an Obama toast declared that his country will continue working closely with Kenya.


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