Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Kenya Election 2013 - A crisis of a different kind

So - a couple of weeks ago, everyone was preparing for an election crisis – a real, physical and out-on-the streets kind of election crisis – just like the one seen in 2007.  After a week of tension and breath holding – we let out a relieved sigh when violence did not break out.  Now it seems that this sense of relief and ‘it’s all over and now we must get on with it’ has been little premature. Today Kenya finds itself in a different kind of political crisis and it’s one that we are all half shielding our eyes from, as we attempt to continue life as normal.

Flawed Election Process
There seems to be no doubt that the election process was flawed. The electronic voting system failed (some theories are that it was sabotaged) and some votes were not counted.

Uhuru Kenyatta casting his vote

Crisis of Diplomacy
Now there follows a crisis of a diplomatic kind. President elect Uhuru Kenyatta, has taken the reins of power and is acting president but he has yet to be sworn in. At the same time, he continues to fight his pending trial at the International Criminal Courts where he is accused of responsibility for instigating violence that surrounded the 2007 election. His recent petition to get charges against him thrown out have failed (again) with the ICC stating ‘we have enough to charge Uhuru’ (see the Kenya Standard newspaper link here: ‘ICC: We have enough proof on Uhuru’).

Meanwhile, the international community seem to be at a bit of a loss, or at the very least they are adopting a ‘watch and wait’ strategy. While a handful of overseas presidents have congratulated the Kenya president elect (namely China), others have been noticeably silent.

Perhaps their behaviour can be explained by the fact that, during the run up to the election, comments were made by the UK and US with regard to the prospect of Kenyans electing a President who is wanted for crimes against humanity. The US hinted; ‘actions have consequences’ while the UK reportedly said something like ‘we will not welcome a president who is wanted for ICC crimes’.  Veiled threats at sanctions and visa bans did not go down easily in Kenya. These comments (whether true or dreamt up by some presidential campaign aspirant's spin doctors) played rather conveniently into Uhuru Kenyatta’s hands. He immediately took up the rallying cry; – ‘Kenyans won’t be told how to vote for by foreigners’ - and true enough, the Kenyan people rallied behind him.

Raila Odinga who is contesting results saying that he won the election

Contesting the election results
On Saturday, Raila Odinga (chief opposition), formally lodged a petition to the Supreme Court saying that the election was flawed and that he is the rightful winner. At the weekend, he appealed to his supporters to remain calm and wait to allow the courts to make their judgement (see the local Standard story here: ‘Raila says he won election and will prove it’). The Supreme Court must now give ruling within 14 days on whether or not the 2013 election was flawed; who is the rightful winner, whether there will be a re-run.

Another failed presidential aspirant and political heavyweight, Musalia Mudavadi – has reportedly been hedging his bets by seeking a position in Uhuru’s cabinet.

Local Reporting
Interestingly, this week, local newspaper are running stories on; the flawed election theory, Uhuru contesting his ICC case, Uhuru out and about conducting presidential duties and Raila contesting the recent election concurrently.

In Conclusion
As predicted, Kenya’s presidential election was an extremely close run thing between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. Facts are emerging to support the fact that the electoral process was not clear and transparent. Accusations are flying. We don’t quite know what will happen next but I have a feeling that we are not quite out of the woods yet...


Jay said...

I've been checking back here periodically to see how things are looking in country.

I wonder when we'll ever see an election in many of the African countries that don't end with accusations of tampering. With histories so rich in corruption, I suppose it's probably well-justified. We were in Gabon for one election. (The election prior, there were riots.) Luckily, it was peaceful however it wasn't long before allegations began. In the end, all of them were swept under the rug and nothing changed. Many locals were expressing that they weren't going to bother to vote anymore because they felt it didn't matter when the outcome would be previously decided. I wonder if an election does go fairly, if we'll ever feel secure in the outcome?

I hope Kenya finds resolutions peacefully and just. We'll be watching closely!

Anonymous said...

The court drama is the most interesting part,especially seeing Ms Nazlin Umar-Rajput argue her case nd get silenced.


Joyful said...

It seems the allegations of tampering were without merit. I am glad the people of Kenya remained peaceful while the Supreme Court undertook the important task of dealing with the election challenges. I hope now that Kenya can get on with the task of growing and developing it's democracy.

The US talking about consequences needs to remember that they do not support the ICC process. They do not recognize it, neither do they fund it. They also need to remember that the justice system in NA and at the ICC is built on the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Sadly I've been following the ICC process and it looks like all the charges are built on a house of sand. One by one the cases are being dropped. I think it is only a matter of time for the same to happen with Uhuru Kenyatta. Louis Moreno Ocampo did no service to the ICC, a lot of talk and very little proper homework. Having said that I realize it is difficult for outsiders to truly know what is going on in Kenya or anywhere else where almost everyone has a skewed view based on ethnic affiliation. I think that will change in time. I see the beginnings of that already. God bless Kenya.