Tuesday, September 14, 2010

National Democratic Institute was in Town!

The National Democratic Institute Board of Directors were in town at the beginning of this Month (September 2010). The NDI committee members had jetted into the country for a historical (Annual General meeting during its 25th Anniversary) board meeting  first ever to be held out of American soil (as if they had run out of place to hold their meetings in America or the rates there were too high!) They said they had done this gesture in acknowledgment of the democratic strides the country had taken to realize a constitutional dispensation. So am thinking next we should expect a G.O.P think tank is next in line to hold its meeting in Kenya or Nairobi County as it is now called under the new dispensation can lobby to hold the Democrats and Republican Party conferences for US, national people's congress standing committee for China and Labour party conference due sometime this year to select their party head!

Not that I am opposed to the NDI holding its symbolic meeting in Kenya considering that Obama's Administration did not send any high profile dignitary to attend the promulgation ceremony. I had hoped to see the US top diplomat for Africa, Ambassador Johnnie Carson. But considering NDI is affiliated to the democratic party then perhaps NDI had a personal message from the US president to deliver in Kenya. I was also surprised to find in their website that they were involved in mediating after the 2007 post election violence
The NDI also welcomed our man in Washington (picture below) with a public lecture to highlight the implications of the passage of the new constitution
US President B. Obama with our ambassador to the US Amb. Elkanah Odembo
The NDI in collaboration with Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Africa program are also organising another event 'moving forward with constitutional reform in Kenya' and have invited chair IIEC, David Ndii and Pheroze Nowrojee

While in Kenya the board did meet a broad spectrum of the populace starting with the President, Vice President, Prime Minister and Students. 
In their meeting with the president, they got assurances from the head of state that his government was committed to implementing the new constitution and that priority had been given to the passage of new laws to anchor the new constitution. The president pointed out that the public needs to be educated on their role and that of the government under the new structures of government envisioned in the constitution.
President Kibaki with NDI board members
The Vice President also got a chance to speak to the board and was able to post of  what transpired in his official communication line (Campaign for 2012 have started in earnest!)

H.E. Kalonzo Musyoka meets Global Board of NDI chaired by Madeleine Albright.

The ODM was not to be left behind and seem to have had the better part of NDI trip to Kenya however much was not availed to public apart from the photo ops with the former US Secretary of State. Let hope they will return the favor and hold their next ODM Delegates conference in US. Considering they were taught a thing or two about democracy.

Albright with ODM luminaries

However, what fascinated me in this whole NDI visit was the public lecture at Taifa Hall (our equivalent of Ancient Athens Public discourse gallery!). Too bad I missed the discourse BUT I was able to get what went down thanks to K24 (This is Louis) which I have been looking for to upload to this blog but to no avail. However, the whole public discourse was facilitated by Louis Otieno our equivalent of Fareed Zakaria. The discourse was on two topics;
  • Helping Democracy deliver by Madeleine Albright, Former US Secretary of State
  • The Role of Legislature in the implementation of reforms by Thomas Daschle (Senior Policy Advisor DLA Piper)

Senator Tom Daschle (who is also a vice chair of NDI) in his address highlighted the four pillars of democracy. This are;
  1. Tolerance
  2. Respect to the rule of law
  3. Participation
  4. Leadership
While former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright talked about democracy and economic prosperity and if the two are synonymous and what comes first if there is anything like that.

The Chancellor of the University (UoN) Dr. Wanjohi was there to wrap up the discourse with his pet subject of JFK airlifts (This time he added to this story of his that they were questioned by the FBI before departing to the US) and occasionally dropping that he knew Obama senior who was one year ahead of him. 

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