Legitimising Electoral Process: The Role of Kenya Domestic Observation Programme (K-DOP)* in Kenya’s 2002 General Elections

The past two decades have seen a movement in Africa from authoritarian regimes toward popular democracy through electoral rule. Local and international election observation is now a common practice in almost all elections that take place on the continent. Elections must be free, fair and meaningful and must be perceived to give legitimacy to the incumbent government. It has been suggested by various analysts and commentators that Africa, and groups within the democratic polity, should accept as a crucial component of the continental democratisation process the important role of domestic election observation in ensuring electoral legitimacy, fairness, and popular acceptance of election result (Abbink, 2000; Von Cranenburgh, 2000; Mair 1999). Implicit in this statement are several assumptions about domestic observer groups: that they are non-partisan and are experienced in the conduct of election observation; that they operate within an acceptable code of conduct; that they have a clearly defined notion and understanding of ‘free and fair elections’ and that they have the necessary technical and administrative capacity to observe the entire election process (before, during and after). If this proposition is to be acceptable as a political canon in a democratisation project on the continent it is vital that it be subjected to critical scrutiny and empirical verification. In this context K-DOP has played a legitimising role in helping foster democracy at a very sensitive and delicate trajectory in Kenya’s political history, resulting from the changed nature of partisan competition, particularly at a time when there were high hopes for regime change.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Kenya African National Union (Kanu), Muungano wa Mageuzi (People’s Movement for Change), National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), National Rainbow Coalition, National Rainbow Coalition (NARC)
journal of african elections vol2 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa