Kenyan Post Election Crises

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

After Uhuru Kenyatta, from Jubilee Party of Kenya, won the 2017 General Election on 8th August this year, the opposition party leader, Raila Odinga from National Super Alliance has charged the electoral commission of a ‘computer generated fraud’ where hackers have influenced the winning result by login into the account of a senior electoral commission official.

To counter the claims, the EU delegation recently passed out a statement that there had been no such manipulation at the central and local level, and has urged the people to accept the election result.

Kenya's election commission had also commented about a hacking attempt that failed, and election observers have said they saw no signs of interference with the voting. Analysts are also discussing whether these moves by the opposition party leaders are just gimmicks to stay in the limelight and heighten chaos post election results.

Young voters have dominated the scene of Kenyan politics over the period of time, constituting over 51 percent of the electorate. It is a country where 80 percent of the population is under the age of 35.

However, many regional political commentators claim that many young Kenyans have lost interest in national politics, which may be bad for the country. The other reason can be that they didn’t find both of the candidates appealing to lead them and want a new face to lead them.

Kenya has one of the highest unemployment rates among East African Nations, according to a 2016 World Bank Report. One can find nearly one in five young Kenyans without a job. Kenya is also currently suffering from high cost of living, rising public debt, a high public wage bill and corruption allegations among people close to the government.

Both Kenyatta and Odinga have differed widely on policy issues over the period of their political career. In international diplomacy, Kenya plays an important role in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), a major regional peacekeeping mission. Ironically, Odinga has often called for the withdrawal of Kenya's Defense Forces (KDF), despite being the prime minister of the government that sent Kenyan soldiers to Somalia for the first time. In contrast, Kenyatta has urged regional leaders to deploy more troops to counter Al Shahab and has called on the international community to help with additional deployments of military troops.

The political slogan ‘Uhuru’s Action Plan: More Jobs'. Lower Cost of Living’ might have worked for the President-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta second time around, despite anti-incumbency factors. His voter base had been made up of smallholder farmers, who expected heavy investments in agriculture in return for their vote loyalty, as there had been a recent discontent in the milk and coffee prices in the country. Kenyatta also had an early advantage in the election against Raila Odinga because many believed that Odinga was too old to lead the country.

This is not the first time some sort of election crises has happened in Kenya. If we go back into time, in the 2007-2008 election, Raila Odinga had alleged election manipulation that time around as well, charging former President Mwai Kibaki.

Fueling the election crises in the 2007-2008 election, Raila had encouraged supporters for mass protests, and with the result, police had shot hundreds of protestors, including a few in the front of TV cameras, causing more violence and controversy. That year in Kenyan history, post-election had been regarded as an event of targeted ethnic violence, mainly against Kikuyu people, members of former President Mwai's Kibabi tribe. About 600,000 people were displaced and around 1,300 were killed. Some of the people in the community had been locked in a church and burned up alive at a new years eve. Post-election violence had also happened during the 1992 elections, mainly in the Rift Valley province. Therefore, post-election crises in Kenya are not a new thing for the masses to endure.

In a poll conducted by Synovate, a London based market research company, more than half of the population was unhappy with his first elected term. However, his rating had improved dramatically after 2014. A poll by Gallup in August 2014 put his approval rating at 78%.

Raila Odinga has pleaded to fight for the ‘supposedly election sham’ in the Supreme Court. Odinga also used a biblical allegory in his campaigns, positioning himself as Joshua leading his people out of oppression to Canaan. Ironically, many common people are using adages against him such as “he is trying to weave together when he is out of thread and needles.” They also want him to retire and get isolated from politics.

Several commentators believe that stable elections are not only important for Kenya, but also for the rest of the African continent. Currently, UN has urged the opposition party to calm down its supporters.

The media also reported about several Kenyan graffiti artists using peaceful messages to spread harmony in their areas. It has presumably been a reaction against the killing of eleven people in the post-election crises.


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