The forty nine (49) days between August 4th, 2017 and Friday, September 22nd 2017, were historic for Kenya and the world. The East African country that has arguably the most powerful economy in the regional bloc held its elections. A sequence of events that can only be described as spectacular followed.
The general elections were held on August 8th. These saw Kenyans line up to vote for six (6) representatives to the Legislature and the Executive. As is common in any elections, there were person who were not happy with the outcomes of the elections. Various individuals who had run for the positions of Governor, Women Representative, Member of County Assembly and of parliament, Senator and Presidential candidates trooped to courtrooms and newsrooms expressing their opposition to the results. Others conceded defeat and urged their supporters to quickly resume their daily economic activities.
The Big One
Spectacularly, one courtroom battle stood out. Raila Odinga moved to the Supreme Court of Kenya seeking annulment of the presidential results. This was the third (3rd) time Raila was running for the presidency and losing. On all three times, Raila who is a Luo by ethnicity was losing to a Kikuyu president within the tribal democracy of Kenya.
Incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta had already been given his certificate and was sitting pretty with it in the statehouse. In 2013, he had squared off with Raila in another election that saw the two meet in court. The Supreme Court under the then Chief Justice Mutunga upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s election and destined Raila Odinga to five more years in the opposition trenches that he was very familiar with.
Hopes and Complacency
Kenyatta and his supporters must have thought that they would have a downhill ride in the second courtroom battle with Raila in 2017. This was however not to be the case. The Supreme Court judges found that Kenya’s electoral body had bungled the elections. They directed the electoral body to carry out repeat elections within sixty days. A detailed ruling followed a number of days later.
Most important in the detailed ruling was that there were irregularities and illegalities in the process of transmitting results from polling stations to the national tallying station. It also found out that the electoral body had calculated presidential results using statistics collected from the wrong reporting tool. The announcement of presidential results using statistics that had been tinkered with, and using a wrong reporting tool had in their reasoning warranted a repeat election.
Within these thirty five days, there was a lot of back-and-forth between the two opposing sides at the presidential level. Lawyers on both sides defended their masters vehemently. But the layman could see a number of things;
- Raila went to court. He said something had happened and wanted a repeat election at the presidential level.
- The court saw that something had happened and ordered a fresh election.
- The electoral body had messed up. They were now in a rush to clean house.
- The sitting president, Uhuru Kenyatta, launched an overt and covert war against the Judiciary since he was not happy with the decision to annul the presidential results.
- Talk of secession came up. If a certain group was not going to have their way, breaking away was an option they were willing to explore and take.
- Kenya’s economy stagnated too. Spending went down, investors halted large cashflows, and international tourism that contributes a big chunk of Kenya’s budget ground to a gradual halt.
- A spirit of tolerance and coexistence reigned supreme, but for how long will this continue to be the sate of affairs?
You do not need a lawyer to interpret some things to you. Newscasters and discussion panelists picked from opposing political sides will not help either. It is up to you to sometimes analyze and arrive at a decision by yourself using the information you have at your disposal.
A number of thoughts run through your mind when you look at the sequence of events. In a clean and fair election, is Uhuru Kenyatta confident that he can win against Raila Odinga? These are 35 days. The next 35 are sure to be very interesting too.