Photo Credit To Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses supporters. Photo/NDEGWA GATHUNGU
As Kenya election 2017 draw closer, the reality of winning or losing is dawning on candidates for various positions. The most important ballot of the election is the presidential election. In this country, as in many others, how presidential candidates conduct themselves is key to stability. What is causing disquiet about the election? It is not that election will be held.
It is the question of whether there will be violence after the election. And, if truth be said, only one thing is raising the spectre of violence, and that is whether the presidential candidates will accept defeat.
Let’s look at how the two top presidential candidates have conducted themselves. President Uhuru Kenyatta has on several occasions stated that he will accept defeat and hand over power.
Kenyans can have complete faith in this because the President has been there before. In 2002, while challenging Mwai Kibaki for the presidency, Uhuru did the honourable thing.
When it became clear that Kibaki’s lead was unassailable, he called a press conference and conced. The tension that was building up over doubts that Kanu would concede and hand over power dissipated. Indeed, the seamless handover from President Daniel arap Moi to Kibaki was a direct consequence of this act of statesmanship.
What about Nasa candidate Raila Odinga? In 2007, he rejected the election results, claiming his victory had been stolen. He called out protestors into the streets, and an orgy of violence, looting, rape and destruction of property ensued.
The tragedy was that an independent review of the 2007 election by South African Judge, Kriegler, found that Raila’s ODM had engaged as heavily in ballot stuffing as those he accused.
Justice Kriegler also found that Raila had nothing on which to base his claims of victory. In 2013, Raila dragged the country through another cliffhanger with his petition at the Supreme Court challenging the election.
Yet, all election observers were in agreement that the election was credible. So, he has no history of conceding defeat whatever the evidence. In 2017, he has refused to state categorically that should he lose, he will concede defeat. He keeps prevaricating and skirting the issue every time the question is put to him.
Why is this? The only conclusion one can make from the shenanigans Nasa leaders are engaging in is that they are not ready for the election. That is why they have become a permanent feature in the courts, launching legal challenge after legal challenge especially over the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Nasa is dealing with deep internal fissures that have wreaked havoc with party support of its affiliates even in their strongholds. They have been forced to abandon their pet subject, corruption, with the revelation that they are in bed with tender cartels. Nor has the debacle over two manifestos drawn by warring factions done them any good.
As a consequence, Raila is fashioning himself a fallback position to seek an escape route should he lose. He says he will concede defeat only if Kenya election 2017 are “free, fair and credible.”
There is an implied threat of unspecified consequence if by his judgement, the election does not meet this threshold. If in 2013 he could not accept the verdict of reputable local and international election monitoring groups who had deployed over 7,000 observers countrywide, as well as that of the Supreme Court, whose judgement will he accept on the credibility of the election?
It seems he wants to be a player and referee at the same time. Raila has demonstrated a penchant for going the route that leads to violence whenever he wants to circumvent the law. And the results have generally been disastrous.
The government must be alert and vigilant to forestall and stop in its tracks any attempts to disrupt the peace under the guise of “stolen election.” It is comforting that the government is alive to this reality and has been making elaborate preparations.
Raila cannot continue playing poker with the lives of Kenyans and the country’s stability. All critical stakeholders, both locally and internationally, need to put pressure on him to unequivocally commit to declare that he will concede defeat if he loses.
Anything short of this can only be construed to mean Raila wants to leave himself options to determine how to “protest his stolen victory.” Kenyans know very well where that has led this country previously.
If Raila loves this country as he claims to, he will do the honourable thing and commit to concede should he lose — no ifs, no buts. It is the same IEBC whose declaration of victory he will accept if he wins. [email protected]