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Family Dynasties and Governing Elites in Kenya and Liberia

Africa
Comparative Politics
Democracy
Elites
Political Leadership
Rosalind Raddatz
University of Ottawa
Rosalind Raddatz
University of Ottawa

Abstract

The paper compares emerging political family dynasties as governing elites in Kenya and Liberia and how these perpetuate endemic and systemic corruption. Both countries have experienced civil violence and structures remain fragile. I argue that neither president can eradicate corruption while seeking to establish political family dynasties that will consolidate their roles as governing elites. In Kenya, President Kenyatta is the son of the country’s first post-independence leader. Daniel Moi, the second Kenyan president, has two sons in parliament, one of which has leadership aspirations. Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf is also grooming her children for office—three of her sons have been appointed to senior government positions. All have been accused of acquiring power and wealth through family affiliation. The paper explores how governing elites comprised of family dynasties perpetuate a lack of transparency and accountability, and undermine support for the tenets of democracy in fragile states.