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Is Uhuru setting the stage for rigging August polls?

As Kenya goes to the polls in under 30 days, there are increasing fears that the elections might be rigged in favor of Uhuru Kenyatta. In the onset these were fears that would have been easily dismissed as the usual conspiracy theories by the opposition but the president’s recent statements do not inspire confidence in his willingness to accept the outcome of the polls in case he loses. The most recent one being his attack on judiciary rulings that seem to favor the opposition.

“When a hyena wants to eat her children, she first accuses them of smelling like goats,” so says an African proverb.

While speaking in Baringo (a County in Kenya’s Rift Valley) over the weekend, the President accused the Judiciary of being in bed with the opposition.

I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools.We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC.

– Uhuru Kenyatta

This could be likened to the hyena we talked about earlier. The President out-rightly attacked the Judiciary – the single institution that is supposed to play the roll of a neutral arbiter in cases of contested elections. First though, let me give you a brief background on the president’s statement in case you are not familiar with the situation.

Kenya’s electoral commission (IEBC) awarded the ballot printing tender for the August General elections to a Dubai based firm known as Al Ghurair. It was alleged that the Dubai based firm had links with the president’s family thereby putting the integrity of the coming elections to question. The opposition moved to court and successfully got an order stopping the printing of ballot papers last Friday.  The IEBC have threatened to to appeal the High Court Decision.

The ruling comes in the wake of yet another blow to both the IEBC and the Jubilee Coalition after the court of appeal upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court in which the opposition had sought for the electoral laws to be interpreted to mean that Presidential election results as declared by constituency returning officers cannot be changed at the national level.

Both rulings were big blows to President Kenyatta’s camp. Mostly because they sealed loopholes that have previously been used to rig elections in Kenya.

His government is currently not very popular with the masses and is very likely to go home if not for the tribal voting pasterns in Kenya. The massive theft of public money, sheer incompetence and rising costs of living are issues that affect all Kenyans across the political divide. The tribal vote that Kenyatta’s camp is hanging on by the skin of his teeth is largely not guaranteed – especially with opposition’s raid into regions hitherto perceived as Uhuru’s strongholds.

For Uhuru to make the statements he made over the weekend, it would be interpreted that he is set precedence for rejecting judicial pronouncements. The constitution of Kenya 2010 gave the mandate of determining disputes in presidential elections to the Supreme Court. The opposition have made statements to that effect.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President, Isaack Okero  is also of a similar opinion.

 Such statements erode public confidence in the judiciary and are acts of intimidation completely inconsistent with the oaths of office of these high ranking state officers that bind them to respect and uphold the constitution, including Article 160(1) which affirms that judicial authority shall be subject only to the Constitution and the law and shall not be subject to the control or direction of any person or authority.

– Isaack E.N.Okero, LSK President.

As we draw closer to the August 8th election date, there is increased uneasiness among the general population that the country might witness another bout of post-election violence following the grandstanding between the government and the opposition coalition; NASA. The European Union election observers have already warned of possible violence breaking out in informal settlements in Nairobi.

It is no secret that there are concerns about the possible outbreak of violence. This is not inevitable.
– Marietje Schaake, head of the EU Election Observation Mission.
Even as the tempers flare between the two opposing camps in the Kenyan elections, it’s perhaps important to remind the leaders that in the event that violence erupts following the elections, both would have no country to run.


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