Saturday, December 29, 2007

Democracy in Kenya

Hodi, Hodi

Well, this is a difficult week for democracy. Kenya looks like it was on its way to voting out its current President. However, within 24 hours a healthy lead in election results vanished. The results are questionable. One vote tally reported 105,000 votes out of an area with only 70,000 registered voters! This sounds very familiar to me, I am originally from Chicago and in Chicago every vote better be counted. Still, it highlights how difficult democracy is to achieve and maintain.

The result, riots and violence throughout Kenya. This is sad. Kenya is one of the most developed nations in Africa. Still, it is also divided along tribal lines and people often think of themselves in terms of ethnic identities and not national identities.

Our government has staked a lot on encouraging democracy around the world. That is a difficult proposition. Democracy is not part of many nations’ history or culture. Young nations are often the result of the nation making of colonial powers so that the national identity is much younger than the ethnic division. In other places democracy is working but we are not pleased with the results. Iran is a democracy and yet we are not crazy about who the Iranians have elected. The Palestinians put Hamas in power. Democracy in Iraq threatens to be the Shia over the Sunni and Kurds. Don’t get me wrong. I believe a poor democracy is always better than an effective dictatorship or worse, the tyranny of terrorists.

So let’s pray that moderating voices in Kenya are heard. The church in Kenya needs our prayers and support. Our elected official need to hear from us and hear that we expect our government to call, forcefully, for fair elections and order. In short, let’s fervently pray of peace.

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