Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga has officially filed in his petition on the 4th March presidential election which he narrowly lost to his deputy, Uhuru Kenyatta. Although Odinga wants the Supreme Court to annul the results, he must also be on guard not to stir up another lethal post-election violence in an election which most international observers said was free, fair and credible.
Supporters of Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, Cord, clashed with riot-police outside the court recently. The clash has perturbed the serenity that has been spontaneously observed all through Kenya since Uhuru was declared the winner. After Uhuru’s victory was announced, Odinga immediately challenged the conduct of the election and results on a local TV station, but called for calm among his supporters.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Odinga’s camp claimed the final results were fallacious following what they described as irregularities during the election and the vote counting machine glitch which they claimed impacted on the counting process itself and the tally obtained. The Supreme Court that has the finally ruling on the election is yet to make known the date of the hearing. With Odinga whinging on ‘minor issues’, which equally affected the other candidates, simply because he lost, this might tread on people’s toes or provoke violence against opposing camps. This is definitely the last thing Odinga nor Uhuru would want to happen to Kenya after the elections started and ended peacefully.
Democracy or Disrespect
“Democracy cannot be exported or imported from abroad. It must be generated by the will of the people and nurtured by a strong active civil society,” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General.
In any election there is always bound to be a loser as well as a winner. Whether the loser accepts the defeat or the winner opts to co-operate with the loser, it is all part of the democratization process. The Kenyan election was obviously going to be challenged looking at the tiny gap that separated both forerunners in opinion polls. However, the results were not declared by Uhuru, but by the Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that conducted the elections.
If Odinga trusted the Election commission prior to the poll just like the other seven running contestants, he must also respect the decision and credibility of the institution. Albeit, Odinga would have wish to see the election enter a re-run phase in case no candidate had absolute majority votes. However, there were no guarantees that he would have emerged victorious. It is worth mentioning that out of the eight candidates that went in for the election only Odinga has filed in a complaint.
Democracy according to a UN report is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political, social and cultural systems and to fully participate in all aspect of their lives. It is as much a process as a goal. Again, only with the complete support of the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals can the best of democracy be made a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. Participating in an election is a commendable endeavour to any contender, however not everyone goes into an election with the hope of winning. That is to say, just like the Olympic Games, it is the participation that is honoured and not winning medals. In a liberal democracy, which a level field and conducive atmosphere must be provided during an election winning is not all and all but the honour to take part and get engaged with the people.
The popularity of a party or coalition of parties during an election must not be confused with voter’s choice. Because voting in a democracy is considered secret whereby the voter has the full right on whom to choose from the ballot papers, lots can change. With the turnout quite high, 86 per cent for the election, this might show the enthusiasm among Kenya to involve themselves in the affairs of the government or overall express support for the political system in the country at the moment. It shall be a mistake or simply egoism for Odinga’s legal camp to challenge the peaceful attitude with which majority of Kenyans have accepted the results as well as the credibility of the Election commission.
Taking the case to the Supreme Court with enough evident is no problem, but the hope of most critics is that he should also be ready to take the ruling of the court. Whatever the court’s ruling shall be, the spontaneously peace that Kenya has continued to enjoy, but for a pocket of deviant clashes, should be considered in depth. Silence is golden. If they people are all silence, it means they are happy with the official declaration of the Election Commission.