UNITED STATES POLICY AND THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN KENYA, 1990-1992

Abstract : This study examines U.S. policy on the transition to democracy in Kenya from the beginning of 1990 to the end of 1992. It uses the case study method and relies on data from official policy documents and oral interviews to understand why, how and with what results the U.S. intervened in Kenya's democratic transition. It focuses on the pressure by the U.S. government on the government of President Daniel arap Moi to accede to growing demands for democratic reforms, especially to allow multipartyism, to generally review the country's laws and constitution, to release political prisoners, and to hold free and fair multiparty elections. The central thesis is that U.S. pressure was instrumental in nudging the recalcitrant Moi regime to repeal the one-party clause in the constitution in December 1991, thus allowing for multipartyism, and to take other measures to open up the political system. The U.S. used both its hegemonic position as the sole superpower and influence in the donor community to rally international pressure for democratic reform in Kenya. It also deployed its diplomatic and economic leverage it had accumulated over the years as one of Kenya's major donors and diplomatic patrons to apply pressure independently on the Moi regime. U.S. unilateral and multilateral initiatives played a great role in the inauguration of the transition to democracy which saw the government legalize the opposition, release political prisoners, amend some of the laws and to ultimately organize the first multi-party elections in twenty-six years Its contribution to the inauguration of the transition notwithstanding, U.S. policy was, however, fraught with contradictions, ambivalence, equivocation and conflicts between the major actors (Congress, the Administration in Washington and the embassy in Nairobi). These problems arose mainly because of the perennial conflict between promotion of democracy and other goals of U.S. foreign policy. The need to address other urgent issues of national interest sometimes led to policy actions that either slowed pressure for reform or contradicted stated policy all together. This only goes a long way in underlining the limitations of external actors as agents of democratic reform in countries where they intervene.
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Phillip Nyinguro. UNITED STATES POLICY AND THE TRANSITION TO DEMOCRACY IN KENYA, 1990-1992. Political science. University of South Carolina, Department of Government and International Studies Program in Political Science, 1999. English. ⟨tel-01266796⟩

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