Documents on Democracy

Issue Date July 2003
Volume 14
Issue 3
Page Numbers 184-87
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On 27 December 2002, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) lost its first presidential election since the country’s independence in 1963. (See Stephen Ndegwa’s article on pp. 145-58 of this issue.) Opposition leader Emilio Mwai Kibaki of the National Alliance Rainbow Coalition defeated KANU candidate Uhuru Kenyatta—outgoing president Daniel arap Moi’s hand-picked successor. Excerpts from Kibaki’s inaugural speech follow:

The National Rainbow Coalition [NARC] represents the future of Kenyan politics. NARC is the hope of this country. Our phenomenal success in so short a time is proof that working together in unity, we can move Kenya forward. . . . Never in the history of this country have its leaders come together and worked so hard together as one indivisible entity with one vision. . . .

We want to bring back the culture of due process, accountability and transparency in public office. The era of “anything goes” is gone forever. Government will no longer be run on the whims of individuals. The era of roadside policy declarations is gone. My government’s decisions will be guided by teamwork and consultations.

The authority of Parliament and the independence of the judiciary will be restored and enhanced as part of the democratic process and culture that we have undertaken . . . to foster. . . . I am inheriting a country which has been badly ravaged by years of misrule and ineptitude. There has been a wide disconnect between the people and the Government, between people’s aspirations and the government’s attitude toward them.

I believe that government exists to serve the people and not the people to serve the government. I believe that government exists to chart a common path and create an enabling environment for its citizens and residents to fulfill themselves in life. Government is not supposed to be a burden on the people, it is not supposed to intrude on every aspect of [End Page 184] life and it is not supposed to mount roadblocks in every direction we turn to in life. The true purpose of government is to make laws and policies for the general good of the people, maintain law and order, provide social services that can enhance quality of life, defend the country against internal and external aggression and generally ensure that peace and stability prevails.

These will be the aims and objectives of the Government under my leadership. . . . My government will adhere to the principles and practice of the rule of law in a modern society. . . . Corruption will now cease to be a way of life in Kenya and I call upon all those members of my government and public officers accustomed to corrupt practice to know and clearly understand that there will be no sacred cows under my government. . . .

My government will continue to play a leading role in East Africa, Africa and the world. It will support and facilitate all positive efforts to resolve the conflicts in Somalia, Sudan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other trouble spots in Africa. Kenya continues to bear a heavy burden of these regional conflicts with hundreds of thousands of refugees in our land. As a country which has suffered two devastating terrorist attacks, we shall work closely with others to root out causes of terrorism in the world. We desire to live in a peaceful world, united by a common sense of purpose in pursuit of a safe common future.


The International Movement of Parliamentarians for Democracy (IMPD) condemned the recent crackdown on Cuban dissidents in the statement presented below. The IMPD is a recently founded coalition of parliamentarians from around the world that aims to challenge political oppression, the violation of human rights, and government corruption by means of coordinated outreach campaigns, public hearings, investigations, and the building of coalitions with democrats worldwide. (For more information on the IMPD, see

The International Movement of Parliamentarians for Democracy, a coalition of international parliamentarians dedicated to the defense and promotion of democracy around the world, condemns the arrest and conviction of democracy and human rights advocates by the Government of Cuba.

Beginning on March 18, seventy-five democracy and human rights activists, reporters, and opponents of the Castro-government were arbitrarily arrested on spurious charges of crimes against the state, including subversion and treason. Their sentences range from six to twenty-eight years.

Among the arrestees are forty activists in the Varela Project, twenty-five independent journalists, and eight independent labor activists. The Varela Project has collected more than 20,000 signatures on a petition [End Page 185] calling for a national referendum on political and economic reforms in Cuba. The arrestees include well-known activists, like independent journalist and poet Raul Rivero, economist and political activist Marta Beatriz Roque, and independent labor leader Pedro Pablo Alvarez.

Cuba’s actions violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which it is a signatory. We specifically refer to the violation of Article 19, which declares that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression” and Article 9, which states that “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exile.”

The IMPD calls on the Government of Cuba to respect its obligation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to immediately release all political prisoners in Cuba.

The IMPD also commends the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, sending a personal representative of the Commission to Cuba to investigate human rights conditions in the country, and calls upon Cuba to facilitate her investigation.

Latin America

On March 17-19, ten former presidents and prime ministers from the Western Hemisphere met at a conference entitled “Financing Democracy: Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections,” organized by the Carter Center in collaboration with the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Forum on Political Parties. Excerpted below is OAS secretary-general César Gaviria’s speech to the conference.

After the dark night of dictatorships, democracy dawned in the Hemisphere. I am convinced that the process of democratization in the Americas cannot be reversed; democracy, political freedoms and civil rights have taken root in our countries and are here to stay.

Amid this new democratic dawn, the Hemisphere is currently suffering through a series of economic and political crises marked by continued economic hardship, very low rates of growth, declining per capita incomes, increases in poverty rates, expanding inequality and lack of faith in public institutions. At the same time, the explosion of information technologies has created a new and healthy demand for social justice, raising people’s expectations and resulting in a kind of political globalization. Compounding the unhappiness with globalization is a new phenomenon in which citizens equate all of the problems that exist in their societies with the democratic system and the institutions which compose it. This has placed enormous pressure on our political systems, pressure that our governments have been ill equipped to address. One can understand why the public’s opinion of democracy is weakening, and also why this meeting is so timely.

There is no question that it is impossible to have an effective democracy [End Page 186] without strong and pluralist political parties. But recent data show political parties rank dead last in surveys of people’s confidence in public institutions in Latin America. As an alternative, people are now turning to NGOs. Undoubtedly, NGOs are essential elements of a flourishing civil society and are an important component of democracy that should be promoted and strengthened. But one must never make the mistake of believing that they can replace parties in a democratic system.

We must work to improve the performance of the Hemisphere’s political parties. Parties should have at their disposal the best technical and human resources to address new challenges in a manner that best articulates their fellow citizens’ aspirations. We must guarantee that free, transparent, and periodic elections are held, where candidates compete on an equal basis for the support of the electorate and in which the electorate is assured of all the necessary guarantees to exercise the right to vote.

I am of the opinion, along with most academics and politicians, that direct state financing of campaigns does have a salutary effect on politics. I also believe that well organized political parties and efficacious oversight institutions can give us a satisfactory environment for the holding of free and fair elections. Nevertheless, there are those who voice objections to these propositions. Many caution that public financing can lead to parties demanding more and more money, greatly increasing the costs of campaigning; others fear that governments may become overly involved in party organizations; while some believe that direct state financing in underdeveloped countries results in an unhealthy competition for scarce state resources which should be earmarked for basic social services. . . .

In some countries of the Hemisphere, the transition to democracy has involved holding frequent elections at both the national and local levels. This proliferation of elections has not always brought with it clear rules guaranteeing transparency in campaign financing, and in some cases has spawned corruption. In other cases, the increasing costs of campaign financing have led to attempts to trade monetary contributions for favors from elected officials. . . .

As we have seen, there are numerous questions . . . to consider. How to ensure that election campaign financing does not impair transparency, freedom, and equity in elections? How to guarantee strict monitoring of such financing? What guidelines are needed with respect to ceilings, origins, and equity in contributions? What criteria should govern effective control and monitoring of those contributions? How can we guarantee that the outcomes of elections are not determined solely by better funding?

Naturally, no one should expect this meeting to come up with a definitive answer to these and many other questions. However, I do believe that partial answers based on different circumstances may prove to be the start of an enriching process of shared experiences and cooperation on a topic that is vital for the present and future of our democracies.