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.
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.
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...