On Friday, August 11, 2017, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) chairman, Wafula Chebukati, announced the final results of Kenya’s Presidential election at the Bomas of Kenya in the capital Nairobi. Uhuru Kenyatta, the candidate of the Jubilee Party, emerged victorious. He garnered 8,203,290 votes, representing 54.3 percent of votes. He attained 25 percent of the votes in 35 counties.
Kenyatta beat the veteran politician and candidate of the National Super Alliance (NASA) party Raila Odinga who garnered 6,762,224 votes (44.7 percent). The announcement of Kenyatta’s victory came after days of postponements and several allegations of “fraudulent elections practices” by the opposition party.
Despite election observers declaring the elections “free and fair,” the opposition party have refused to accept a loss, stating that Odinga should be named president because earlier polls suggested that he was in the lead. Pro-Odinga supporters staged several protests in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, which is a large ethnically mixed slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. Reports have it that the Kenyan police used tear gas on the protesters and about 11 people have been killed. Also, the National Super Alliance (NASA) party claim that over 100 people have been killed by the police force but the Kenyan government has denied these allegations, stating that there are no demonstrations in the country but criminal activities in Mathare and Kibera slums in Nairobi and in Kisumu.
The eruption of this post-election violence has revived memories from a decade ago, when Odinga, now 72, lost an election in controversial circumstances that sparked a wave of political and ethnic unrest in which 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 displaced.
The ongoing unrest has attracted the attention of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan, who mediated during the previous political crisis. Kofi Anan, in a statement, urged Kenyan leaders to “be careful with their rhetoric and actions in this tense atmosphere.”
Also, President Kenyatta in a statement called on the opposition to work with him towards strengthening national unity and peace.
“As with any competition, there shall always be winners and there shall be losers, but we all belong to one great nation, called Kenya. And I extend a hand of friendship, I extend a hand of cooperation, I extend a hand of partnership, knowing fully well that this country needs all of us pulling together in order for us to succeed. And Kenyans want us to succeed,” president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta said.
He also admonished the opposition to follow the legal processes of laying any post-election complaints to the court, which is the rightful authority. But, apparently, Kenyatta’s rivals have taken matters into their hands saying that “going to court is not an alternative”, insisting that Kenyans have the solution.
“Every time a Kenyan has been killed, assassinated the Kenyan people have stood for the truth. Every time an election has been stolen the Kenyan people have stood up to make sure that changes are made to make Kenya a better place. So I have great hope with the Kenyan people,” NASA Chief Agent, Senator James Orengo, told reporters.
Meanwhile, as Kenya’s opposition struggle to swallow the bitter pill of losing the election, jubilation continues within the ruling party. But what exactly are the jubilations for? What reforms does Kenyatta’s second tenure have in stall for the people of Kenya? In his previous campaign speech, Kenyatta promised a major restructuring of the government to make it lean and responsive “in the 21st Century”; and a commitment to reduce the public wage bill that currently stood too high at Sh458 billion. The reality on the ground, however, is the opposite. There have been major layoffs in private organisations because the economy is struggling. The national debt is also skyrocketing, with external borrowing now worrisome.
The then manifesto pillars also focused on National Cohesion; Security; Trade and Foreign Affairs; Sports & Culture; Healthcare; Education; Youth Empowerment; Women’s Empowerment and Social Protection. While some promises have been fulfilled, others remain unfulfilled due to a series of mega controversies, infighting and bickering.
Also, Kenyatta promised to tackle corruption upon coming to power but anti-corruption campaigner John Githongo calls his administration “the most corrupt in Kenya’s history”.
In its 2016 report on perceptions of corruption, Transparency International ranked Kenya at 145 out of 176 countries. It blamed Kenya’s ranking on the incompetence and ineffectiveness of anti-corruption agencies, saying that “the failure to punish individuals implicated in graft had been a major stumbling block.”
The jubilations around Kenya will be short lived as reality sets in, when the people are reminded of the country’s current perils. Furthermore, it is difficult at this point to say what the future holds for the opposition as it insists the results do not represent the true verdict.
Swearing-in of the president-elect is scheduled for August 29 and the opposition has until August 22 to file a petition with the Supreme Court.