Kenyan elections, again

Kenyan elections, again
The re-run of Kenyan elections is taking place on October 26th, 2017. The nation’s Supreme Court had declared the August 8th election null and void due to “irregularities.”..

The re-run of Kenyan elections is taking place on October 26th, 2017.

The nation’s Supreme Court had declared the August 8th election null and void due to “irregularities.”

Background

Kenya, officially the Republic of Kenya, is a founding member of the East African Community (EAC). The capital, Nairobi, is a regional commercial hub. Civilization in Kenya can be traced back to pre-historic era.  Kenya is named after Mount Kenya. In the 19th century, the German explorer Johann Ludwig Krapf was staying with the Bantu Kamba people when he first spotted the mountain.

The economy of Kenya is the largest by GDP in East and Central Africa. The largest city in Kenya is Nairobi and it is also the nation’s capital. Kenya has a population of approximately 48 million people in January 2017.

The nation is currently in the midst of a political crisis. The general elections in Kenya had been held on August 8th, 2017. It was one of the most hotly contested elections in the country’s modern history. The two main contenders were the current President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, who lost to Kenyatta in the previous election. The region used to be a one-party country till 1991. The incumbent was seeking a second and final term of the office.

President Kenyatta had been adjudged the winner after the voting had taken place. However, in September 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya declared the results of the elections “null and void.” It is likely that this is the first time in Africa where the court has ruled in favor of the opposition regarding election fraud.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was met with violence and protests across the country. The judges admitted that they themselves had gotten threats as a result of it. The highest court maintained that the results were “neither transparent nor verifiable.” It blamed the electoral commission for the problems. The court revealed that the results of the election had been declared before the results from the 40,000 polling stations had even been received.

Kenyatta meanwhile tried to urge Kenyans to maintain peace in the wake of the ruling. He said that he disagreed with the judgement but would respect it. In a televised address, he noted that it was "important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling".

 

Analysis

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga announced that he would not take part in the court-ordered re-run of the presidential vote scheduled to take place on October 26th, 2017. In September he had demanded "legal and constitutional guarantees” in order to ensure that the second round of these elections would be fair and legal. After not receiving such a guarantee, he pulled out.

“In the interest of the people of Kenya, the region and world at large, we believe that all will be best served by (opposition grouping) NASA vacating the presidential candidature of elections slated for 26th of October, 2017," Odinga told a news conference.

Kenyatta meanwhile indicated that the elections would take place as scheduled. He told his supporters, “There is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot.”

The elections are currently underway in Kenya. Even though the final tally is not out, reports have suggested that in contrast to the August 2017, elections, this one has a much lesser voter turnout. Additionally, Agence France-Presse reported that ballot boxes and electronic kits to identify voters and transmit results had not arrived in many of the polling stations despite the fact voting was already underway. Opposition supporters blamed officials for not delivering voting material on time.

One voter in Nairobi's Mathare slum, taxi driver David Njeru, 26, told the AFP news agency: "It is my duty to vote. Last time the queue was all around the block and I waited six hours to vote, this time the people are few."

Odinga has continued to boycott the vote but he urged his supporters not to resort to violence against those who will be voting. “Do not look at your [neighbour] with suspicion … He or she is as much of a victim as you.” Kenyatta urged people to vote on the eve of the elections stating, “Our forefathers fought and died for the right of the African to vote, we dare not reject this inheritance."

Kenyan elections have historically been marred by violence. Even the August elections witnessed violent outbreaks and resulted in the deaths of at least 24 people, according to human rights groups.

Assessment

Our assessment is that since there were no new measures introduced to ensure the authenticity of the Presidential elections, there will be doubts cast on the results of the re-run. The fact that thousands of Kenyans have not cast their ballot indicates a growing lack of trust in the process. We believe given that the main opposition has withdrawn from the election, Kenyatta will secure a final term as the President. His tenure will likely be affected by claims of illegitimacy. 

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