Former President Rupiah Banda has urged African leaders to consider public good over personal interests if the continent’s democracy is to flourish.
And the former Zambian head of State has been described as a living embodiment of democracy who has shown the continent that there is life after leaving political office.
Delivering a keynote address at a two-day conference titled Elections March 2013: Imminent debates in the event of a Presidential run-off’, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nairobi today, President Banda said it was important to ensure that democratic systems were respected.
He told a packed conference that included delegates from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Liberia and Senegal that African democracy was taking root and urged the media to highlight electoral success with the same vigour that they reported on failed elections.
The former President also urged young Africans to strive towards creating an environment in which leaders and their followers would not have to worry about retribution if they lost elections to their competitors.
Earlier, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Ahmed Hassan and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) Kenya country director Felix Odhiambo described President Banda as a true democrat who was magnanimous enough to concede defeat in the 2008 Presidential elections, thereby ensuring that Zambia remained a peaceful country.
“The message from President Banda is very pertinent as we go towards elections. Indeed, public good overrides other factors. President Banda understands the dynamics of free and fair elections. We are very grateful for the message you have brought to Kenya,” Mr Hassan said.
And Swedish Ambassador to Kenya Johan Borgstam said he hoped the Kenyan people would learn from President Banda’s experience and prepare well for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections set for 4th March, 2013.
President Banda later addressed a Press conference where he answered several questions regarding what compelled him to accept the results of the 2008 elections and what advice he had for Kenyan politicians ahead of the March elections.
The two-day conference has been organised by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa in partnership with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Kenyan Judiciary and the Kenyatta University School of Law.