News and Notes

Issue Date January 1992
Volume 3
Issue 1
Page Numbers 135-39
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Kenya Promises Move to Multiparty System

The one-party regime of Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi and his ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU), one of the most determined opponents of the democratic currents that have been sweeping Africa over the last two years, faced a crisis in late 1991 that left it promising to launch a transition to multiparty politics and free elections.

The immediate cause of the crisis was a November 14-16 government crackdown involving the arrest of 14 leading members of the country’s main opposition movement, the Forum for the Restoration of Democracy (FORD). Among those detained were 80 year-old Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, a former vice-president under the late Jomo Kenyatta, and Gitobu Imanyara, the editor of the Nairobi Law Monthly, a major journal of democratic opinion whose work was discussed by Imanyara’s fellow lawyer and human rights activist Gibson Kamau Kuria in the Fall 1991 issue of the Journal of Democracy. When FORD went ahead with its plans to hold a mass rally for multiparty democracy in Nairobi on November 16, police used tear gas to disperse the large crowds that had attended it. Local newspapers reported that the demonstrators suffered one death and seven gunshot wounds as a result of police actions.

Although the government’ s initial reaction was to blame foreign powers, particularly the United States, for encouraging the disturbances, by November 19 it was taking steps to mollify longtime overseas and domestic critics of its corruption and authoritarianism. On that day, President Moi dismissed his industry minister and chief lieutenant, Nicholas Biwott, along with several other high officials thought to be deeply implicated in massive corruption. A week later, Moi ordered the arrests of Biwott and Hezekiah Oyugi, the regime’s former internal-security chief, in connection with the February 1990 [End Page 135] murder of Foreign Minister Robert Ouko. As these arrests were being made, the judge presiding over a special inquiry into the case announced the suspension of the investigation, which had uncovered detailed allegations (subsequently made public) of links between senior figures in the regime and the killing of Ouko, a noted foe of corruption.

Meanwhile, the Club of Paris—a group of 12 governments and 6 international lending agencies to which Kenya owes much of its $6-billion foreign debt—was deciding to accept the Kenyan opposition’s advice and refuse any new aid for at least six months, calling upon the Moi government to make “clear progress in implementing economic and social reforms” during that time. This represents the first major application in Africa of the principle of “political conditionality,” which links aid levels to “good governance” and respect for human rights.

On December 3, Moi announced an immediate end to the 9-year-old ban on political parties other than KANU, sparking speculation that he plans to call a multiparty vote as early as February 1992. This prospect has unsettled democrats, who fear that hastily organized opposition parties will prove no match for KANU in snap elections. Many advocates of democracy are thus calling for more time to build parties, as well as the creation of an impartial electoral commission and an international commission to certify the integrity of the political process. Others are calling for a national conference like that which arranged Benin’s recent transition to political pluralism.

Paraguayan Constitution Focus of Conference

An international conference on “Constitutional Reform and Democratization: The Challenge for Paraguay” was held in Asunción, Paraguay, on 5-7 December 1991. The conference was sponsored by the Instituto Paraguayo para la Integración de América Latina (IDIAL) of Asunci6n and Miami University of Ohio.

The conference was designed to contribute to the debate on major questions that will be addressed by the Paraguayan Constitutional Convention when it convenes in January 1992 to draft a new constitution. Leading experts from the U.S., Europe, and Latin America discussed with their Paraguayan hosts such issues as presidential versus parliamentary forms of government, equilibrium and separation of powers, specific mechanisms to ensure the independence of the judiciary, alternative forms of judicial review, the constitutional role of the armed forces, and fundamental electoral principles.

Guest speakers included Juan Linz (Yale University), Arturo Valenzuela (Georgetown University), Dieter Nohlen (University of Heidelberg), Mario Garcfa Laguardia (Constitutional [End Page 136] Court of Guatemala), Gabriel Murillo (University of the Andes, Colombia), Liliana de Riz (CEDES, Argentina), Julio Faúndez (University of Warwick, Britain), and Miriam Kornblith (PECLA, Venezuela). All the presentations were followed by two commentaries by leading Paraguayan politicians and scholars who reflected on the applicability of the theses discussed to Paraguay in light of its specific historical tradition, party system, and political culture.

Scholars Discuss Concept of Civil Society

An extraordinary collection of scholars from many parts of the world convened on 21-23 November 1991 at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, to discuss “The Idea of a Civil Society.” The keynote address at the conference was delivered by Bronislaw Geremek, a medieval historian and the Speaker of the Polish Parliament. Introduced by U.S. Librarian of Congress James Billington, Geremek traced the idea of civil society as it reemerged among Solidarity activists in the 1970s, and explored its relevance under the new conditions of postcommunist society. A revised version of Geremek’s presentation is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Democracy.

Other featured speakers at the conference included Princeton historian Robert Darnton, Canadian professor of philosophy Charles Taylor, Irish author and diplomat Conor Cruise O’Brien, Polish ambassador to the U.S. Kazimierz Dziewanowski, and Argentine legal scholar Eduardo Rabossi. Also in attendance were Nobel prize-winning author Czeslaw Milosz, Czechoslovak parliamentarian Pavel Bratinka, U.S. congressmen David Price and Jim Leach, Washington Post columnist Edwin Yoder, Harvard professors Stanislaw Baranczak and Roy Mottahedeh, and exiled Chinese journalist Liu Binyan. Although the participants interpreted the idea of civil society in a variety of ways, all agreed that it is one of the most fruitful concepts for assessing the goals and problems of democracy in the contemporary world.

Turkey Hosts Meeting on Democratization in Middle East

Antalya, Turkey, was the site of a conference on 14-16 November 1991 on “Democratization in the Middle East.” Sponsored by the Turkish Democracy Foundation and the Ford Foundation, the conference was attended by scholars from Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Western Europe, and the United States.

The papers presented at the conference dealt with a wide variety of topics, including the impact of economic development and political culture on democratization. Much of the [End Page 137] discussion revolved around the prospects for forging democratic change under conditions of economic crisis, weak civil societies, and ideological conflict generated by the growing influence of Islamists. Considerable light on the problems of democratic change was also provided by the comparison between Turkey’s experience and that of the Arab world.

Among those participating were Ergun Özbudun, Metin Heper, and Ilter Turan (Turkey); Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Gehad Auda, and Mona Makram Obeid (Egypt); Abdelbaki Hermassi (Tunisia); Jean Leca (France); and Lisa Anderson, Michael Hudson, and Daniel Brumberg (United States).

Relationship of Christianity and Democracy Explored

More than 700 politicians, clerics, and academics gathered at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, on 14-17 November 1991 for an international conference on “Christianity and Democracy: Past Contributions and Future Challenges.” Cosponsored by the Law and Religion Program at Emory University and the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C., the conference brought together leading authorities on Christianity and politics to debate what Christianity has contributed in the past and what it should contribute in the future to the development of democratic government throughout the world.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu of Cape Town, South Africa, delivered keynote addresses. Other featured speakers included Marcos McGrath, Catholic archbishop of Panama; Father Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things; Rodrigo Carazo Odio, former president of Costa Rica; and Laszlo Surjan, president of the Christian Democratic People’ s Party of Hungary.

From Leninism to Freedom

The Bradley Institute for Democracy and Public Values at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sponsored an international, interdisciplinary conference on October 18-19 addressing the topic “From Leninism to Freedom: The Challenges of Democratization.” A diverse group of political scientists, economists, historians, sociologists, and jurists analyzed the dramatic movements toward democracy and market-oriented economies in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and the People’s Republic of China.

The program opened with an introductory session on “The Origins of the Crisis of Leninism,” featuring a paper by Marshall Goldman of the Russian Research Center and Merle Goldman of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University. Subsequent sessions dealt with “Political and Economic Reform: Exploring the Interrelationship”; [End Page 138] “Civil Society and Democratization”; and “The Experience of Democratic Reform.” The final plenary session considered possible future developments in Eastern Europe, the former USSR, and China.

Other speakers at the conference included: Edward . Friedman, University of Wisconsin; Eugene Kamenka, Australian National University; Robert F. Byrnes, University of Indiana; Kjeld Erik Brodesgaard, University of Copenhagen; Su Shaozhi, visiting professor, Fairbank Center, Harvard University; and Stephen Szabo, Johns Hopkins University, whose paper appears in revised form in this issue of the Journal of Democracy.

New Arabic Journal on Democracy

The inaugural issue of a new Arabic journal on democracy, al Dimoqratiya, appeared in December 1991. Combining original material by authors from the Middle East with articles translated from the Journal of Democracy, this new Cairo-based publication is edited by Gehad Auda, the director of the Center for Political and International Development Studies. Its editorial board includes Abdelbaki Hermassi, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Mona Makram Obeid, Muhammed Bekshi, Sulieman al-Askari, and Muhammed al-Beshir Hamed. For further information, contact Gehad Auda, 48 Gizerat al-Arab Street, al-Mohandiseen, Cairo, Egypt; telephone 344-3000, fax: 344-2000.

Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

On 3 April 1992, the Journal of Democracy will be hosting an international conference on “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.” Marking the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Joseph Schumpeter’s classic work of the same title, the conference will consider contemporary perspectives on the relationship between alternative economic systems and democracy.

The participants will reflect a wide range of ideological viewpoints and geographical origins. Six major presentations will be given by Peter Berger (Boston University), Francis Fukuyama (RAND Corporation, U.S.), Kyung-won Kim (Institute of Social Sciences, Korea), Adam Przeworski (University of Chicago), Gaspar Mikl6s Tam,is (Institute of Philosophy, Hungarian Academy of Sciences), and Francisco Weffort (University of S~o Paulo), and their papers will be discussed by an equally diverse group of commentators.

A special section of the July 1992 issue of the Journal of Democracy will contain revised versions of the material presented at the conference. Both the conference and the expanded July 1992 issue are being supported by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts (Philadelphia). [End Page 139]


Copyright © 1992 National Endowment for Democracy