For Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, a low key, opposition boycotted repeat presidential election is set to hand him a 90 per cent-plus victory.
National Super Alliance’s Raila Amolo Odinga, a veteran in the East African country’s politics boycotted, promising nothing less than complete defiance of the status quo.
Mr Odinga’s lawyers and other activists believe the elections became a nullity once he withdrew, and that the ’90-day rule’, which requires Mr Kenyatta to hand over the presidency to National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi pending fresh elections in 90 days, set in.
The Supreme Court, which in the first place nullified the August 8 elections, suffered a quorum glitch when it was supposed to determine whether or not the controversial elections should be held, widely seen as an avoidance by the apparently divided, David
Maraga-led court to entertain a matter that was likely to invite more wrath from Jubilee Party honchos who declared the court on their watch list.
Such is the three-dimensional predicament of Kenya’s top men, which has set the stage for the country’s worst constitutional crisis since independence.
Upon authoring this story, only 6.7 million votes were tallied, a figure unlikely to significantly change till the official declaration by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), in an election boycotted by opposition strongholds.
Not lost to Kenyans and the pensive neighbourhood is what happens after Mr Kenyatta’s inevitable ‘victory’.
Will he preside over a country sharply divided into two halves for the rest of his term? Or will he heed to the several calls and talk with his “older brother” Raila Odinga?
Uhuru’s game plan
The nullification of the August 8 elections poured ice-cold water on Mr Kenyatta’s face, who with his right hand man deputy president William Ruto, described the Supreme Court using unsavoury language.
On the drawing board, the clearest chess board strategy was to do everything possible to swiftly bring an end to the “uncertainty,” mentioned many times in Mr Kenyatta’s speeches.
Mr Kenyatta, in the first days of the campaigns, said the Jubilee Party has no demands whatsoever on the IEBC.
This was a direct response to Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance, which demanded a near complete overhaul of the IEBC, including dropping of some officials who had “committed the illegalities and irregularities” that caused the election’s nullification in the first place.
Mr Kenyatta stuck to his guns, saying the elections would be held anyway.
An uncertainty would further energise Nasa supporters and fatigue those of Jubilee, who going by the current ongoing repeat presidential elections tally are already fatigued.
Mr Kenyatta, and most especially Mr Ruto, was apprehensive about the 90-day rule, which would push him into an election without the benefits of incumbency.
His camp would later agree to have an election, any election, to confirm a victory they maintained was robbed by the Supreme Court, irrespective of the legitimacy talk.
The elections have been held, with Mr Kenyatta promising to talk to Raila after the polls.
In effect, the Jubilee Party has switched to a ‘there is no turning back’ mode. They are to deal with the aftermath later on, but first, a victory and recognition – at least by law, that Uhuru Kenyatta is the president of Kenya.
Mr Kenyatta and his Jubilee Party supporters are waiting for swearing in, and are not willing to listen to any talk of a repeat election or going back to the polls within 90 days, as suggested by the opposition.
Raila Odinga and the birth of NRM
Is this the end of the ‘Mzee wa Kitendawili’ as his detractors disparagingly refer to him? Answering this question in the affirmative has proved suicidal as no blow seems to be too strong to give Mr Odinga a knock out.
At his final rally, Mr Odinga announced the transformation of his National Super Alliance into a resistance movement – now known as the National Super Alliance Resistance Movement – the NRM.
Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has already described Raila’s formation of NRM as declaration of war.
During his final rally at Uhuru Park, Mr Odinga announced that on October 27, a day after the repeat elections, he would issue further directives to his supporters on a planned social and economic boycott of companies, goods and services owned by Jubilee Party functionaries whose list he is to publish.
Mr Odinga seems keen on not going into any elections any time soon, as long as he feels they are organised under terms he deems unfair and tilted in favour of Jubilee.
Although he promised not to go back to the Supreme Court, it is widely expected that he will take the matter, through his lawyers again, to the Supreme Court for determination as his social boycott continues.
These are, easily the most divisive moments in the history of Kenya, in an election pregnant with undertones of ethnicity.
If Raila continues with the boycott and unending rallies, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior Fred Matiangi-led security forces will, as demonstrated already, apply deadly force, a further precipitation of the crisis.
Raila’s restive strongholds are, like Mr Kenyatta’s, waiting for nothing less than victory for their top man, a polarisation likely to continue and further derail the region’s economy with Kenya being the heart and bastion of trade.
Both camps, as it stands now, are walking opposite lanes that show no signs of crossing over.
Mr Kenyatta would wish to talk about moving on, hinted by his offer to talk with Raila only after the election.
For Raila, it is only a proper election within 90 days as speaker Justin Muturi holds the presidency that can be discussed with the Jubilee Party.
So, there is no middle ground.
A worsening of the crisis, even to deadly extents, appears to be the only thing that can ring both Uhuru and Raila’s alarm bells loud enough for a talk to end the stalemate once and for all.
As for the apex court, praised and loathed in equal measure, a shootout at the Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu’s official car, harming her driver, was interpreted as a signal to watch out, and keep off.
A case filed on whether the elections should be held, flopped. Most Justices, with the exception of one away on sick leave, failed to turn up in court.
The next day, Mr Maraga went to cast his vote in the controversial polls, signalling the judiciary’s withdrawal from the political crisis.
Will the Mr Maraga court annul this election again? It is expected that having suffered personal attacks from the president and top Jubilee Party leaders, Mr Maraga is expected to give the elections a nod of approval, to avoid further rattling of the establishment.
An end to the stalemate, the Supreme Court now apparently suggests, should be resolved through political negotiations and not through the courts of law.
After the next week, Kenya’s crisis will ripen so that its leaders wake up and heal the badly wounded land, or tie their eyes with a dark ribbon, fix loud music headphones into their ears and wait to be consumed by the crisis, together with the country of course.
By Ibrahim A Manzil