Kenya Elections: Uhuru maintains lead over opponent

Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta of the National Alliance (TNA), has maintained a strong lead against his opposition Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The presidential election count show Kenyatta leading with a margin of nearly 1.4 million votes with 54.8% vote for Kenyatta and 44.3% for Odinga.

Odinga has so far rejected the result saying hackers broke into the election commission computer systems and database overnight, leading to massive fraud vote that nullified the lead in results for the current president. The 72-year-old self-described leftist, Odinga rejected the result as fictitious and fake saying conspirators denied Kenyans their mandate by manipulating the outcome of the elections.

The rivalry between the two presidential candidates can be dated back to 1960 when their fathers Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga and Jomo Kenyatta were political opponents. In 1969 Jaramogi was arrested after the two verbally abused each other publicly at a chaotic function.   Mr Raila Odinga, 72, has run for president three times and lost each time. President Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of Kenya’s founding president, beat him in the 2013 election with a total of 50.51 % votes as against Odinga’s 43.70%.

This is the third time Odinga is rejecting election results based on election fraud. An instance was in 2007 when the presidential candidate contested against the then president, Mai kibaki. Initially with Odinga leading the polls, the situation looked promising but at the turn of events, counting continued and kibaki’s result began to match up and gradually the gap narrowed.  Odinga rejected the result and the dispute led to two months of ethnic fighting that left over 1,000 dead and forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes for fear of losing their lives.

Like a replay of 10 years ago, Odinga’s supporters have already taken to the streets protesting the results; chanting “no Odinga, no peace”. Meanwhile, their chairperson Odinga told reporters “I don’t control people, but I have asked them to remain calm”. These comments have raised unrest as to how far people might go to protest this result.

All outcries by the opposition in years past has been met with different road blocks, either there is no evidence or the witnesses suddenly die or disappear. Mr Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court for their alleged roles in the bloodshed a decade ago, but no evidence was gotten and the case ultimately collapsed due to lack of evidence, and after key witnesses died or disappeared.

Currently, there is fear and tension in the once lively city; streets are deserted, residents stay at home, most shops and public transportation has shut down. This fear is accompanied by the murder of Kenya’s electoral commissions IT manager, Chris Msando, whose autopsy revealed that he was strangled days to the election.

In the cause of these elections, the yield on Kenya’s $2 billion Eurobond due 2024 fell 12 basis points to 6.36 percent, the shilling reversed earlier gains to trade little changed at 103.96 per dollar at 12:06 p.m. in Nairobi. Analyst say these gains could be fragile.

A Kenyatta victory will probably trigger protests by opposition supporters, with Odinga likely to either take his grievances to court, as he did in 2013, or escalate the issue on the streets and try to force a negotiated settlement, said Jared Jeffery, an analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics on Bloomberg

No one is willing to lose because to politicians, losing means loss of power to control and most are willing to die for that power. In a statement, Uhuru said “to my competitors, as I have always said, in the event that they lose, let us accept the will of the people. I am willing, myself, to accept the will of the people”.

Since the inception of democracy in Kenya, Kenya has been faced with different political upheaval; the struggle to maintain domestic stability caused by uncertainties created by extra-judicial killings, feelings of political marginalization by some ethnic groups, hopelessness among many unemployed youth, should the trend persist, it would have a negative impact on the democracy in the county.

As Bayard Rustin once said, “if we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such society through violence”. Political violence leads to intimidation and harassment, which instils fear in potential voters. So far, we have seen that happening.

Kenya is home to tourist attractions, with parks and game reserves that generate huge amounts of money for the Kenya government. The beauty of this Nation would be long forgotten if insecurity caused by violence looms as tourist would not visit a place where his or her life and safety is not guaranteed.

The capital city, is a regional commercial hub and has the largest GDP in east and central Africa. The agricultural sector booms as they export coffee, tea and recently, flowers. If the fighting, burning of tyres and violence continues, the aftermath in the Nation would be unpleasant.

As Dalai Lama said, “non-violence does not mean we have to passively accept injustice”. Violence as a way of achieving electoral justice is both rash and destructive. Though violence brings about momentary results, the truth is, violence never brings peace or permanent solution.