The Political situation in Kenya and the way forward – by Esther Obachi

The Political situation in Kenya and the way forward

By Esther Obachi

The December 2007 elections were carried out peacefully by Kenyans. There was a mood of of change in the air as giants from the previous government were felled. The Kibaki gorvernment had opened up the stage for openness and freedom of expression that gave Kenyan people encouragement for even a better Kenya. There was hope that Kenya was headed for a better democracy.

This encouraged more young people into the political arena. For the first time, Kenya saw many independent youths come to parliament, not because they came from rich backgrounds, like it is often the case, but because they were determined to bring change to the government. Many expected the election process to be carried out smoothly as it had been in the previous one.

Rumors of pre-marked stolen presidential votes were openly aired in the local media where vehicles were featured carrying ballot boxes to unknown destinations. Kenyans kept vigil and took nothing to chance as the election date approached.

The election day was the most peaceful of them all as people woke up early to vote and retired to their houses to watch or listen to the election process through different media.

No one expected the election process to turn out the way it did. Everyone thought that the Kenyan democracy had matured enough to stop any kind of rigging. This had been seen as true when every suspicious move by the would be riggers was thwarted by the media that kept vigil. No incident was reported on the election day. Kenyans were determined to have this process completed peacefully so as to give them a chance to move on with their usual activities. The International Observers were impressed by the calmness by which Kenyans voted. Everything was as expected.

Soon-after, provisional results started pouring into media houses and were aired live. The parliamentary results indicated shock as giants were felled by political non-starters. The first senior government official to go was the former Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs, who was defeated by a young lawyer who had never ventured into politics before. Many other bigwigs followed suite. There was excitement among the electorate as their five years wait had finally come to an end and they were now making their voices heard through the ballot box. The few who managed to survive the elections had prooved to the electorate that they could be trusted and that they valued them (electorate) and their views. The Presidential results were also being relayed into the media houses and Raila Odingo was leading by an average of 500,000 votes.

Then we started seeing unusual delays in the releasing of results from some areas. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), Mr. Samuel Kivuitu expressed his fears that something was amiss because the returning officers from these areas were not reachable and that they had even switched off their cellphones. However, he assured Kenyans that all would be well. The electorates` anxiety turned into excitement and later into anger as the delay continued without any explanation. The electorate demanded that the results be availed. The ECK chairman joked about the delay saying that if the results were being delayed because they were being “cooked”, then he would not accept them.

Then the inevitable happened. The presidential provisional results that had been aired earlier started changing and the media started giving different presidential results. This is when all hell broke lose and the anxious electorate took to the streets even before the results were released.

Later, the ECK chairman was forced to release the presidential election results that he himself agrees were not properly tallied. President Kibaki had won the elections! The chairman, Mr. Kivuitu claims that he was under a lot of pressure from president Kibaki