When is stability more important than democracy?

Hello. A variety of things have stopped me getting into the office on time today, so from Camberwell let me wish those of you who were celebrating last night, a Happy New Year. And for those of you who weren’t, happy Tuesday anyway.


Today we’re taking on an issue that runs through so many of the comments you’re sending the BBC and many newspapers and blogs too.


When, if ever, does democracy have to be comprised for the sake of stability?…


We received more text messages (650) during yesterday’s show than in any we’ve broadcast in the last two years. Clearly what is happening in Kenya has touched a nerve for many of you.


Over 120 people are dead, and many more are without their homes since the Presidential election result was announced on Sunday. Meanwhile the EU says the Presidential poll did not meet international standards.


But what to do? Does allowing continued questioning of this result risk splitting the country in half?



In November, President Musharraf declared a state of emergency. He argued that it would help deliver democracy because it would quell a volatile situation. Others of course accused him of doing the opposite. Now we wait to hear whether Benazir Bhutto’s death will cause the parliamentary elections to be delayed. The same arguments about stability and democracy are being thrashed out.


And while Kenya and Pakistan may be making the news at the moment, many of you in other countries are having similar debates.


Russians too are split over whether it’s a realistic to have a stable and prosperous country and the human rights many claim are lacking. In Nigeria Umaru Yar’Adua won the presidential election in April amid similar claims as we’re hearing in Kenya now. Questions were asked but in the end most people in Nigeria and abroad accepted the result, and for many the motivation was stability. Sierra Leone and Liberia too have close experience of balancing democratisation with safety and security.


And don’t forget Colonel Gaddafi’s views on democracy.

Tell us your analysis. Speak to you later.

52 Responses to “When is stability more important than democracy?”

  1. 1 ZK
    January 1, 2008 at 14:15

    Happy New Year to the whole WHYS team and all listeners around the world. Hope 2008 is a fruitful year for everyone, and I look forward to the developments we’ll no doubt be discussing on this programme in the year to come!

  2. 2 Alan Gilmour
    January 1, 2008 at 15:15

    I know George Bush believes that democracy is the only right way to govern a country. Frankly, this is load of utter twaddle. True democracy is a very rare beast, and I wouldn’t dignify UK government in recent years as true democracy. (if it was, we wouldn’t be in Iraq.)

    When countries trade together, do you think businesses care whether the regime in power is democratic or not? I’d suggest that economic stability is far more important to successful trade.

    I don’t know much about Kenya, but I’d guess the leadership issue is similar to Pakistan where I have spent a lot of the past three years. I would say that the majority of the population are much more concerned about stability and peace than they are about democracy. Most of the violence, including the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has nothing to do with democracy, and everything to do with a minority of Islamic fundamentalists seeking to de-stabilise the country.

    Pakistan, and probably Kenya too, needs a strong leader, even a dictator, to give the country a sense of direction and stability that will allow it to engage with the rest of the world on an equal footing. Whatever his faults, President Musharraf has done more good than bad for Pakistan.

    So I say, if the choice is between stability and democracy, give me stability every time!

  3. January 1, 2008 at 16:00

    There was a debate on WHYS on September 12th, 2007 about benign dictatorship or bad democracy – what’s better? http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2007/09/benign_dictatorship_or_bad_dem_1.html . Today the same theme returns with a different nuance: When is stability more important than democracy? It seems that dictatorship can be equated for some with stability while democracy serves only to stir what should be at rest for “the general interest” or “common good”

    The question of which to prefer, stability or democracy is that both are complimentary. Being convinced in democratic rule conducted by rulers with competence and full integrity is what helps political stability in any country. Social unrest culminating in violence is the result of the regimes that can’t have a clear vision of what their people need. People in nature are sociable. They resort to violence only when there is a feeling of injustice.

    In many countries, there are minorities that are oppressed waiting just for moments to vent their anger and to claim their rights. An iron fist can outwardly make society look stable but beneath there is discontent. The former Soviet Union was one of the most secure societies in the world. Crime and violence were rare but the Soviet regime wasn’t up to the expectations of people. It had to go. Putin is enjoying popularity in Russia because his era is a contrast with the overwhelmingly repressive Soviet regime.

    Today, there are the cases of two countries in Africa. There is Zimbabwe whose president Mugabe is exercising utmost dictatorship to defend his principles rather than the welfare of the Zimbabweans. Kenya which has looked stable until the recent bloodshed due to disputes over presidential election results. In Zimbabwe, people can’t openly and violently protest because of Mugabe’s ruthless armed forces that can use any repressive measures to quell unrest. In Kenya, there were fatal casualties because of uncontrollable anger.

    The seeds of instability are in mismanagements. People can be poor and yet peaceful. There are the cases of many poor countries like Mali that are rarely in the news; other countries are never been heard of in the news and consequently barely known to the international audience like Seychelles except in travel agencies. It is when there is great disparity and the loss of trust that the rulers and their laws that violence spark with intensity.

    There were cases of countries that were violently unstable for years like Liberia. Thanks to the settlement of differences between the warring factions and the accepted election of its president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that the country is breathing an air of peace despite the scars from the past.

    Prioritising stability over democracy is an insult to the intelligence of the people, that some see as a herd that should be led without caring to ask what they want. It’s true that democracy is a gradual phase for countries that have never witnessed it because of the dominance of a ruler or an oligarchy, but step by step, people can learn how to manage their affairs locally to have the power and the wisdom of who they should put at the top. The political elites should also learn to rotate power. Each should be given a chance to rule through the ballots. They should work together to correct each other’s mistakes and not to take advantages of their weaknesses to eliminate them altogether by imprisonment or killing. Using stability as a pretext to erode democratic principles serve just a minority which has no alternative but to keep to power through whatever means. People in their countries strive to keep their dignity. Being kept in the cage of their rulers who cites security concerns as a pretext for their repressive measure just kills democracy.

  4. 4 George
    January 1, 2008 at 17:55

    Houston, we have a problem.

    The doctrine of destructive and oppressive actions based on one percent possibility of worst case scenario is unsound.

    This is the formula for destroying democracy here and abroad under the pretense of protecting it.

    A case for one percent potential threat can always be made.

  5. January 1, 2008 at 17:59

    Arnaud, Rwandan in Cameroon (email)

    Is this a genocide or what? is this democracy we have been told? what is really wrong with Africa? if we are weak then what the USA and UK are up for?
    I don’t even want to hear democracy word in any mouth in Africa. The results of Kernya polls show how Africans are suffering from dictatorship, I don’t understand how a day before the results this Odinga had more than a million votes ahead of Kibaki and now Kibaki is proclaimed a winner! I am not sure about it but I am disappointed. may God help all Kenyans

  6. January 1, 2008 at 18:00

    Mohamed Cherif, Conakry, Guinea (email)

    I don’t think the word Democracy makes any sense where there’s no Stability, it’s Stability First; Then Democracy Later.

  7. January 1, 2008 at 18:01

    Sarah from Germany (email)

    A good functioning Democracy has not to be comprised for the sake of stability, its structures and reculations should allow the national government and forces to act according to the rule of Democracy without violation Human Rights. If there are taken measures by the national autority to restrict its peoples democratic rights this is the proof that real Democracy never existed before.
    Of course, to save human lifes, specially the ones of children, every possible measure should been taken – even if democracy as to be comprised. But soon after, everyting should be done to change existing structures in the way that violation and danger will not happen again.

    I pray for a peacful year 2008 for all world citizens.
    Thank you WHYS for connect my mind and heart to the world.

  8. January 1, 2008 at 18:01

    Gabriel, Kenya (email)

    Hello BBC. I come from a minority group in Kenya, the Kuria. The general feeling about the results of the Kenyan elections are disappointing. The good will of the people has been stolen. In Kuria constituency, the presidential totals reported at the constituency level does not tally with those announced at ECK in Nairobi.
    The president at the ECK has a bigger margin. The
    voter here feels it is a presidency stolen, a mock
    of the voting process. For the sake of democracy and fairness…president Kibaki should acknowledge irregularities. I love my country and all i ask is fairness by the government.

  9. January 1, 2008 at 18:05

    Stephen Odera, Sudanese, from Southen Sudan- JUBA (email)

    I call for all. African leaders, European and Americans to put forward their opinion in resolving Kenya election problem.other than seeing and keeping quiet.I can understand that most of the death cases resulted from Police shooting.

  10. January 1, 2008 at 18:07

    Farooq. (email)

    It is sad to note that Kibaki has rigged the elections to retain fradulently and forcefully the presidency of Kenya. Reports of the European Union elction observers and the four Electoral Commission of Kenya comissioners clearly shows that the Elections were flawed and rigged by Kibaki. I suppose if Kibaki would have been elected as the leader of Kenya there would have not been any mayhem and violence. This coup d’etat as stated by Raila is leading my country, one of the most peaceful and prospering countries in Africa, into chaos. We Kenyans feel that our constitutional rights have been severely undermined by Kibaki as he has chosen to fradulently and forcefully cling onto the presidency.

    I rubbish all allegations by Martha Karua the Justice minister that Kibaki was elected by the Kenyans. It is not Raila but Kibaki who has divided us Kenyans on ethnic lines as he placed members of his own tribe in Key government posts and respective sub-posts. I do not have any personal vendetta against the Kikuyu tribe but in a country which has 44 tribes you cannot have one tribe ruling and the others suffering at their behest. This scenario has been quite evident from Kibaki’s five year term as President when we Kenyans elected him to represent us.

    Now it is we Kenyans who have chosen not to re-elect him yet he seems power hungry. Taking the matter into courts will not solve the crisis as one BBC news reporter mentioned that one case that went to court in 2002 was solved in 2007 and so doesnt the violence solve anything. The only solution is that the violence stop, pressue from our foreign partners be mounted on Kibaki and a national recount not a tally (as claimed by Martha Karua) be done infront of all foreign and respective party election observers and local and international media to avoid rigging and a repeat of the same.

    Kibaki has failed miserably in his duties in his 5 year term through his inability to tackle corruption, reinstated ministerial positions to the same ministers he sacked and some who resigned on charges of corruption and mismanagement, nepotism and false assurances. No doubt that Kenya has witnessed a growh of 5% but the basic necessities are still out of reach of some of the impoverished Kenyans whose plight he had vowed to tackle yet did not. A simple case analogy is of free education which was brought in by Kibaki government. How will a hungry child study, when he/she doesnt have food to eat or does not have adequate nourishment?

    Hence as most Kenyans would agree with me that Kibaki is unwanted as our leader and he should immediately relinquish power and allow for a national recount without any anomaly or devious hindrance.

  11. January 1, 2008 at 18:08

    Stano frm Kibera (text)

    Mwai Kibaki is no longer our president. He should step down as soon as posible.

  12. January 1, 2008 at 18:10

    Anonymous from Kenya (text)

    Due to the dictator-style media black-out in force here, I m relying on the BBC for news here in Nairobi. The situation is appalling but can be salvaged if Kibaki agrees to a recount. If he’s so sure of his victory, why does he continue to refute the overwhelming evidence of flawed tallying?

  13. January 1, 2008 at 18:11

    Sam in Nairobi (text)
    Most people killed by the police are thugs.

  14. 14 George
    January 1, 2008 at 18:13

    The one per cent doctrine of threat equals justification for intervention was declared by Dick Cheney.

    This one percent doctrine brought you the Iraq war, the “patriot act”, torture, and a multitude of interventions in foreign nations- some visible, some hidden.

    The policy of undermining democracy at home and abroad, directly and indirectly, for stability, security, and ultimately CONTROL has been around for decades.

    But the Cheney doctrine hung a justification on it to rationalize acts which conflict with our fundamental principals, and in fact attack the very founding documents of the USA.

    The one per cent doctrine directly conflicts with every interest, law, value, and even the prosperity and function of our government.

    Security, stability, and CONTROL are NOT above the Constitution, or the law.

    Stop the pretense, end the abuses, end the one percent doctrine.

  15. January 1, 2008 at 18:15

    Some of the many text messages we’re receiving…

    Keter from Eldoret
    I’d like to add that the deaths witnessed are because some kikuyus killed 2 kalenjin athletes leading to the furore.

    Maina in central Kenya
    Justice must be visited on the people of kenya by having a recount of votes.

    Gichohi wa Nderitu in Nairobi.
    We all know The elections were rigged,its a farce to Democracy,but hey,this is africa where democracy and condoms dont work!

    Rachel, kenya.
    It is quite shameful that while all this chaos is going on in the country the president has decided to go on holiday at the coast!

    While it appears victory may have been stolen from the ODM, this does not justify the needless killings & want on vandalism going on in Kenya. The ODM must rein in their supporters & pursue their grievances through the law courts.

  16. January 1, 2008 at 18:17

    Tedla Asfaw, New York City (email)

    Africans desire to leave in democracy once again brought disaster and it only becomes an issue if it is only on TV screen.

    Europe and USA care less for freedom of our people and are worried about violence when it only comes close to them.

    Kenya is not different than its neighbors especially Somalia and Ethiopia and this time the violence is out for all to see.

  17. January 1, 2008 at 18:17

    Victor Kenya (text)
    The gvt spokesman is jokin we shld invite cops in 4 tea in this chaos! The only ppl who can save kenya now r kikuyus. Over 40 tribes dispute elections & they r shown as the only ones celebrating wich is bad, they mst tell kibaki they r ashamed of him instead of endorsing him. That might help.

  18. January 1, 2008 at 18:18

    Kibue Charles, Kenya (email)
    The ongoing violence is not an acceptable way to solve the standoff. Instigators of violence should meet the full extent of the law. It’s my opinion however that the only and most expedient way to end it is an independent audit and consequent resolution of the root cause which is the seemingly flawed tallying process carried out after the polling. Blocking live transmissions is also not a solution. May God visit peace among us all.

  19. January 1, 2008 at 18:19

    Charles, Poland (email)
    A person’s physical safety is in and of itself a basic human right, is it not?

  20. January 1, 2008 at 18:20

    Antou Faal,The Gambia. (tex)

    Kenyans should be allowed to have the president of their choice.Hijacking power is demeaning.

  21. January 1, 2008 at 18:25

    Sammy from Baringo.(text)
    It is not ethnic cleansing. It would have been totally different if the right president was in place.

  22. January 1, 2008 at 18:38

    Some more of the 300 text messages we’ve received so far…

    Okeymenyiba, Nigeria
    Kenya has joined the league of African failled democratic nations, posterity will never forgive Moi Kibaki and his anti-democratic forces.

    Lucy in soy, lugari
    Please get your facts right.Riots began immediately the results of the flawed elections were announced.There is no kikuyu or luo angle.

    Agnes in Nairobi
    The media is fueling violence. Their report on the dead concentrated on those with bullet wounds . The BBC is very quiet on Kikuyu children and women butchered by the ODM supporters in kibera and kawangware slums.

    Chris in Kisumu, Kenya
    More than 100 people have been killed. Two children were shot at close range by the police and yesterday a young man was also short at close range at 9am near my house. Why shoot an unarmed young girl with live bullets? Is this another massacre? No food, power or water.

  23. January 1, 2008 at 18:39

    Stability cannot work without democracy. Indeed democracy begets stability not the other way round. Kenyans have voted and spoken. Kibaki should and must respect the will of the people. We gave him an opportunity which he ruined. He built corruption, nepotism, and dictatorship. We have been patient for long enough, first under Kenyatta, then Moi and now a combination of Kibaki and Moi. Democracy first, then we can get stability. Democracy brought us stability from 2002 elections.

    Martin Atela.
    Kenyan living in Cambridge

  24. January 1, 2008 at 18:39

    Gary, USA

    No country has true democracy, nor do any have a true dictatorship. Whatever the governmental form, the people must have essential physical services (shelter, food, water, medicine, transportation, etc.). It’s nice, but not essential, they also have necessary intellectual services (the reasonable exercise of freewill within their current cultural dimensions). Both kinds of services are best provided in a non-chaotic environment. So my vote: Stability first, democracy second.
    Oh, a question: Many countries have nuclear weapons. Their absolute control (not using them!) is likely essential to life on Earth as we know it. Does anyone believe that democracy is more important than the exercise of that control?

  25. 25 Chernor Jalloh
    January 1, 2008 at 18:44

    Stability comes first before we think of Democracy.The situation happening now in Kenya is anethnic cleansing.Mr Kibaki has to quit from power and help restore peace and order in the country.This is sad for all Africans today to see many Kenyans to be internal displaced people in their country.The Kenyan People have to understand that by killing each other for greedy politicians who may not even know whether you voted for them or not.

  26. January 1, 2008 at 18:48

    Tom D Ford (email)

    Iraq was a stable democracy under Saddam Hussein. No thanks!

    I think it would be better to talk about a “just” government, whether democracy, republic, socialist kingdom, or whatever.

  27. 27 Anush
    January 1, 2008 at 18:50

    In the long run, Democracy can indeed be stabilizing, but in the end the government of a nation is merely a reflection of the prevailing societal balance of power. When this balance is itself unstable, you will have unstable outcomes, democratic or otherwise. This is not merely a third-world, “ethnic” problem: remember what happened in the US election of 2000. Tying to socially engineer this balance, either from the outside or from within, rather than allowing a stable one to form, this is the disaster-maker.


    New York

  28. 28 George
    January 1, 2008 at 18:50

    Alan Gilmore-

    The open repetition of this White House is that it’s motivations are the spread of democracy, yet it does not trust democracy, particularly in Pakistan.

    The reasoning is: real democracy might elect a Muslim Extremist government with nukes, therefore democracy is a threat, stop democracy to prevent the worst case scenario of Al Queda et al from obtaining nukes.

    I disagree with your premise that the Bush administration is for, trusts, or wants any democracy here or abroad: every single action, regardless of the rhetoric, has spoken far louder than the words.

    I do agree with that the worst case scenario of Al Queda minded extremists with nukes is just that, a worst case scenario.

    The candidate just murdered, Bhutto, held greater promise to establish a functional and stable democracy for Pakistan than not: that promise and probability was greater than the threat of the worst case scenario.

    Full functional support to that good for that nation, region and the world was worthy of support, including protection.

    The “sure thing” of a dictatorship, even with a reasonable dictator is debatable but ends in assuring the long term instability and actually increasing the risk of the worst case scenario.

    The assumption that democracy is the threat, is the issue at hand.
    In that, the assumption is guided by unsound doctrine and is in error.

  29. January 1, 2008 at 18:53

    Anonymous, Kenya (text)
    Am a young Kenyan and I know that stability is an end to which democracy is the means. We are ready to fight coz Kibaki has abused our consience.

  30. January 1, 2008 at 18:53

    Africa should forget about demoncracy until they are ready for it.,.

  31. January 1, 2008 at 18:55

    Barbara, Saskatchewan, Canada (email)
    The current situation in Kenya has come about through a dispute over who should lead the country. It’s ironic that in the wake of this election, the country seems entirely without leadership. Where is the president? Isn’t it his job to deal with this situation?

  32. January 1, 2008 at 18:56

    Zein, Denver, Colorado
    There is no democracy or stability right now. E.U. and ECK have admitted rigging! Kinaki should step down! (And the speaker who’s comparing Bush/Gore debacle needs his head checked. He has provided no solution).

    Talks wil solve nothing. Either recount, or start elections over, but Kibaki should listen to the anomalies in voting and accept defeat. He is forcing the issue and sitting at the state house telling people to stop violence. Like they’ll stop everything because he said so? He has to act first, not talk!

  33. January 1, 2008 at 18:57

    Charles, Nairobi (email)
    Any call for stability has to be unequivocal. It is a contradiction for Raila of Kenya’s opposition to appeal for calm whilst simultaneously asking Kenyans countrywide to hold a protest march on Thursday. No protest march can be held peacefully under an environment of heightened tension.

  34. January 1, 2008 at 18:58

    Isaac (email)
    Its sorrowful sight to see those pictures. What has become of Africans in the 21st century particular when it comes to elections. It is increasingly becoming difficult to normalise lifes in Kenya. How can you be a country be stable with pillars of democracy this like security, justice and peace. I think there is need for more education what voting and the outcome of results is. The aftermath in Kenya is very disturbing. How can you make the situation stable with security. If people are dying in numbers so security and peace first.

  35. January 1, 2008 at 18:58

    Peter, Kenya (email)
    I am about 90KM West of Eldoret.The situation is the here in Kakamega.Anybody from the Central Communities is being targeted.Few minutes ago,a man was killed in the neighbourhood for supporting the president’s party in the Elections.The solution is Kibaki should step down to allow talk with Raila.ECK has betrayed us.I am disappointed.

  36. January 1, 2008 at 19:00

    KINGS from Malawi (text)

    Stability over democracy breeds dictators. I think Kibaki should not have been sworn in pending a recount.

  37. January 1, 2008 at 19:01

    David (email)

    Your question–whether there should be an emphasis on democracy or stability in Kenya right now–is a little off. Kenya had a democratic process and had stability. What destabilized the country was the failure of the government to follow through on the promise on the democratic promise. The people don’t trust their government–which, given the corruption and the likelihood of election fraud, they seem to have a right to that mistrust.

    So, if the violence is truly politically oriented–that is, if it isn’t mainly opportunistic looting–then the government would help instill stability by keeping the promise of democracy. Schedule a new election, allow more sunlight into the process, and arrange for UN or AU oversight. A recount wouldn’t likely resolve this–there will be too many questions about the legitimacy of the initial process.

    Beyond that, maintaining stability in Kenya will be a matter of maintaining the trust of the people through liberalizing reforms, good governance, and a renewed assault on corruption throughout the bureaucracy.

    By the way, this is a great show today.

  38. 38 George
    January 1, 2008 at 19:05


    You remarks are clear and hold truth.

    Incompetence never wants to share power with competence.

    My personal concern it the imbalanced influence against democracy today by those who enjoy power without competence to use it wisely both within nations and between nations.

  39. 39 George
    January 1, 2008 at 19:11

    Gary, USA-

    You pose the faulty logic used by the US authorities perfectly.

    You state because of nukes the choice is democracy or stability.

    You and this administration claim democracy as the threat.

    Democracy is not the threat.

    The one per cent doctrine is the threat to both democracy and nukes abroad.

    Nuke stability and democracy are compatible and worthy of support rather than targeting.

    You throw out the baby with the bath water.

  40. 40 mugasia
    January 1, 2008 at 19:23

    We need a fresh election in Kenya Simple, 40 tribes spoke that they didnt want Kibaki.


  41. 41 Chernor Jalloh
    January 1, 2008 at 19:52

    Stability will be everybody´s wishes.When there is stability democracy can surely come.When an African country is ruled by a dictator or a KING with absolute powers the people will want to find a better solution to their problems.For example Morocco has got Islamist political parties whose aim is to rootout corruption and help poor families who have to abandon their children due to eceonoc hardship and those children cannot go to school but to search in dustbins for something they can sell in the markets to earn a living.While other children are hanging on trucks to get to Spain to seek a better life.And this,hoever happens without the notice of the drivers. When the elections were conducted the Moroccocan people voted for the Islamic party overwhelmingly but there were a lot of fraud during the counting of the ballots papers which were to make the Islamic party to win a landslide victory.Then they held a protest but they were met with the police any many were arrested and sent in jails.Some were accused of being extremists who would want to destabilise the kingdom. So,democracy was not allowed to exist in that improvished country as the rate of unemployement is getting higher by the day.

  42. January 1, 2008 at 19:56

    Democracy is a highly evolved form of governance. It has any meaning only if the society is mature enough for it. A society must be first perpared for it, or in other words, a society must have leaders who can run a democracy. Democracy has failed in many societies because they don’t have statesmen-like leaders. There is no doubt that stability take precedence over democracy.

  43. 43 C Silverblat
    January 1, 2008 at 21:18

    (Sorry – spelling and typo check not present on phone)

    Kadafi recently described democracy as tyrany by a majority. While an unflattering description, it remains an accurate portrayal of the practices central to maintaining civility in mob rule: disagreements are settled at the polls. Threats to this “balance” characteristically stem from a departure from the rule of established democratic procedure and the failure to enforce compliance when violations occur.

    At present, the world is replete with examples of democracies at risk – not from exteral forces, but from internal threats seeking to obtain and maintain control outside due process. That these internal threats use the same tools once employed by an earlier era of those guided by “manifest destiny” is a testament to the tools they employed. Successful world domination has been closest to the grasp of those implementing the earliest principles understood by sociologists studying group behavior. So what.

    The next step in social evolution will arise when the majority more effectively counters the influences utilized by minorities to usurp and maintain power. The only way minority interests can obtain rule is through means outside the law. Obstruction of justice, voter fraud, manipulation of legal processes, plants in strategic regulatory agencies, intimidation, and control of media content have never been more effectively utilized than in today’s world. Point: in the absence of intelligent dialog encompassing multiple viewpoints, propaganda is the sole alternative.

    The spark of that next step in social evolution has been seen from time to time. It was the French Resistance during WWII, it was the lone Russian citizen willing to stand down a line of advancing tanks in Moscow at the fall of the Socialist Union, and it is a growing host of journalists whose highest sacrifices result from trying to report the truth under the noses of corrupt governments through disinterested or controlled propaganda outlets.

    Political refugees are the consequence of flee rather that fight mentality. They relinquish control to those who those who should be vanquished. They flee from tyrants, dictators, endless tribal vendettas, corrupt financial interests, fanatical fundamentalism, they flee from Uganda, Darfur, Somalia, and North to Canada. This takes us back to the original question: are there times when democracy should be suspended in the interest of dealing with threats? The answer has to be Yes because the most effective threats historically damage the processes of democracy to obtain control.

    Whether it’s called the Third Reich or New World Order, their removal from power should use means no more illegal than those employed in their ascent. The rules of engagement should consist of means no more egregious than the original assault on democracy. Like many dictators, Mugabe slaughters his opponents, the end of his rule should be no less compassionate – a precedent historically established.

    The act of suspending democracy to restore it should not be confused with advocating overthrow. Why? Because the removal of corrupt factions is ostensibly designed to restore democracy to that state described by its founders. If legal means are obstructed by ruling factions, then illegal means have to be considered in their removal. Out of fear, the faint hearted will shriek of antipatriotic conduct and domestic terrorism with the tyrants.

    For Pakistan, a host of irreconcilable factions want control. Most everyone knows Pakistan is susceptible to the same power and money hungry mullahs who have been enriched by Iran’s natural resources for generations. Theocracies are an ever-present threat throughout the Middle East and to a limited degree aspiring factions are effectively utilized as a political tool in the West.

    Where do we go from here? The comfortable approach is to allow threats to take over, to thrash the efforts of fallen soldiers, to deny the importance of fighting for home democratic rule and retaining the once-earned privelege of freedom. Countering threats requires courage, and results in feeling isolated, alone, and vulnerable – most of all it requires conviction and an effort to emerge from the kind of apathy that kills democracies.

    It is a book awaiting the seminal event, a book that might be titled “When Sheep Took Over”.

  44. 44 Xie_Ming
    January 2, 2008 at 07:05

    How is “democracy” to be defined? One important aspect is the potential to “throw the rascals out”.

    The majority of people cannot become informed over issues, are naturally obedient and selfish authoritarians and are easily manipulated. Thus, the selection of leaders is at once the essence and most difficult aspect of democratic government.

    The goal of the system should be to maximize happiness among the population.
    Who is to say whether Chinese people’s democracy or US oligarchy does this better in?

    All adaptation occurs in an environment.

    The New England town meeting, Swiss democracy and Muslim meetings of elders are examples of localized democracy.

  45. 45 Achima John
    January 2, 2008 at 12:39

    Dear Sir,
    I wish to point out to you that the political turmoil in Kenya is not between Lwos and Kikuyus. And I appeal to you and the Kenya’s Government Spokesman Mr. Alfred Mutua to stop antoganising the two tribes. Stop inciting the two tribes against each other, pretending to be more concerned about the deaths taking place.Infact you are happy that it is happening so and ofcourse fuelling the animosity. This turmoil is not Odinga’s war, as you keep on insinuating. It is a war between the entire populace ,save for the people of Mt Kenya, against the government illegally formed by Hon. Mwai Kibaki after committing a felony of handling the stollen rights of Hon. Odinga.
    Considering the two, it is Hon Kibaki who does not love his country. He is an old man who cannot set an example to the young. He abused his powers and betrayed the wishes of Kenyans. It is therefore the people of Kenya reacting against the betrayal and not Raila Odinga, so I again appeal to you to stop dragging Odinga’s name into the matter.
    For the solution I would suggest ;-
    a) Exclude from the total votes given by the ECK in favour of both candidates, the votes they obtained from the polling stations in dispute.
    or b) Accept that Hon Mwai Kibaki’s total vote-figures were inflated by over 300,000 votes ; and so from the totals of 4,584,721 deduct 300,000 and the balance is the total votes Kibaki received.
    or c) Repeat voting in the affected areas.
    All in all, shame on you Mwai Kibaki for accepting a flawed win, and yet you expect to be the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces;
    Do you think you will controll people with felonies of such kind?

    Achima John.

  46. 46 Dennis Kariuki
    January 2, 2008 at 13:42

    Thank you for this opportunity to air our views on this Issue. What is going on in Kenya is NOT a Kikuyu and Luo affair, it is in actuality a Kikuyu VS Kenya affair. All of Kenya is rising up against this sham of an Election. We Kenyans hereby make a plea for the international community, especially the US Ambassadeur to stand alongside Kenya, and for democracy, and request Mr Mwai Kibaki to step down for the rightfully elected president of Kenya. Thank You

    Dennis Kariuki , U.S.A

  47. 47 Elliot
    January 2, 2008 at 13:44

    hi bbc,
    I am a Zambian student studying here in Nairobi. However, just to comment briefly on the state of affairs in the aftermath of the elections here in Kenya. I think the turbulence we are witnessing is absolutely the brain-child of the Kenyan Electoral Commission (KEC). The KEC, was recieving fraudulent results from certain constituencies but went on to announce them to the public. furthermore, despite the doubts expressed by the KEC chairman Mr. Kivutu, the man still plucked up more courage to announce the results. Lastly, in my own perception i think the situation has shifted from politics and spilled over into tribal conflicts which is quite an old problem here in Kenya. Please Mr Kabaki and Raila, find a solution to this political and social crisis. I further urge all the kenyan people to desist from violence. The carnage we have seen so far is dreadful and really outrageous.


  48. 48 Kennedy Geria
    January 2, 2008 at 13:53

    The deceision of stability before democracy for the situation of Kenya, is just like starting to build a house from the roof, because the rioters at this material time are infact looking for any opposing force to clash with, which definately will escalate further blood shade.

    Kennedy Geria – Juba

  49. 49 Will Rhodes
    January 2, 2008 at 19:18

    I always have a problem when this question is asked; ‘Stability or democracy?’

    The way I always try to answer it is this way:

    Democracy is an end of a middle and that middle and beginning have to be followed through before any democracy can develop. But, that leads to the question; is democracy the beginning of the end? Well, that can be said – but certainly not mean the end of society as some ascribe to.

    Even the USA had, before the insurrection that led to their independence, a infant democracy. The UK and most of Europe had too – what you have to look at is the history directly before those democracies developed to what has to happen. Was that a matter of stability? That is for the historians to argue over.

    So we have to look at what is happening now and what is being tried to be pushed on to a society that is plainly un-ready for democracy. Unfortunately we have to look at both the US and western democracies and their interference in ‘3rd World’ countries which have a sincere want for stability and democracy but have not the foundation for it.

    Tribalism in many forms is one major problem you come up against time and again – so the answer to that is address these problems first – once you have done that you can move onto the next stage, address that, then take the next step.

    Just saying “we are a democratic nation” does not mean they/we are – it is a statement of intent.

    When politics and teaching ‘The People’ about everything that is democracy as a core subject in schools will the western democracies move to the middle part of the end – we, in Canada, the US, UK etc are coming to that beginning of the end with the middle and end/end to be played out. Until the whole of a society has a real interest in who leads it will true democracy have its true foundation – an evolution if you wish. In the last 60 odd years the west has come to a somewhat stable platform to further democracy in our countries so we really are in no position to dictate what form of democracy any other nation should adopt. What we should be doing is helping those who wish to join a democratic world all working together for a common outcome.

  50. 50 Xie_Ming
    January 3, 2008 at 15:17

    Tribalism does, indeed, have many forms.

    WHYS is unwilling to face up the Abrahamic versions thereof.

    It would be nice to say that a pluralistic, multicultural, society with many “gods”, would not be as affected.

    However, we then have to face the BJP and “Hindu Nationalism” and discover that intolerant tribalism does not necessarily have a religious ideological base.

    These are fundamental issues. Seeking current popular comment will not even scratch the surface of the real problem.

  51. 51 George
    January 3, 2008 at 15:47

    Kenyans standing up for democracy and freedom.

    Courage- the victory is yours.

    I salute you.

  52. 52 marlene wlaker
    January 17, 2008 at 00:36

    Why don’t the world put pressure on kibaki to resign so Kenya can return to peace. The people did not vote for this man to be the president he just took it, so he can continue his corruption, and leave the people living in squalor. The people are infuriating which has causing chaos, this may encourage them to join terrorist to come and help them. Where are there democracy. They do not feel has if they have any, worst of all defenceless people are being shot dead by there own criminal government the police. It’s a very corrupted country which causes missery for the local people, no democracy there. I have just returned for there and was shocked by the situation.

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