Thursday, April 14, 2011


Kenyan prime minister Raila Odinga spoke at CSIS about the “democracy deadlock” in Africa. During an event hosted by CSIS Africa Program deputy director Richard Downie, the prime minister stated that the democratization movement of the 1990s is being undermined by a new pattern of failing elections. Reversing this trend is of paramount importance, he said, given that 21 African nations are heading to the polls in 2011. Mr. Odinga said he had learned from personal experience that power-sharing governments are not a viable solution to disputed election outcomes.

The prime minister discussed the recent election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, comparing it to the contentious 2007 election in Kenya. Mr. Odinga had urged the losing candidate, Laurent Gbagbo, to step aside, but Gbagbo refused to put his country ahead of his personal ambition.

Despite Africa’s election crises, Mr. Odinga said he remains an Afro-optimist and is confident that the will of the people will prevail with the help of civil society and the rising middle class.

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