Apex court to hear poll pe­ti­tions

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

NAIROBI. — Kenya’s Supreme Court is poised to hear pe­ti­tions chal­leng­ing pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s re-elec­tion in a re­peat pres­i­den­tial poll.

The court made his­tory when it nul­li­fied Keny­atta’s re-elec­tion in Au­gust. It cited ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and il­le­gal­i­ties in the vote count and the elec­toral com­mis­sion’s fail­ure to al­low scru­tiny of its servers to dis­pel op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga’s claim of fraud. It then or­dered a new vote.

There are con­cerns about in­tim­i­da­tion af­ter the court failed to find a quo­rum to con­sider a pe­ti­tion seek­ing to post­pone the re­peat pres­i­den­tial elec­tion on Oc­to­ber 26, a day af­ter a body­guard of one of the judges was shot.

Politi­cian Harun Mwau and ac­tivists Njonjo Mue and Khelef Khal­ifa seek to nul­lify the Oc­to­ber 26 elec­tion, which Odinga boy­cotted cit­ing lack of elec­toral re­forms.

Mean­while, the rift be­tween Kenya’s op­po­si­tion Na­tional Su­per Al­liance (NASA) and rul­ing party Ju­bilee con­tin­ues to widen, an in­di­ca­tion that the po­lit­i­cal stand­off aris­ing from two dis­puted pres­i­den­tial polls in the coun­try is far from over.

Lead­ers from the two ma­jor po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tions in the east African na­tion have main­tained hard line po­si­tions, with those aligned to Keny­atta ac­cus­ing NASA of seek­ing to take power through the back­door.

Ju­bilee Party has dis­missed calls for the for­ma­tion of an in­terim gov­ern­ment, in­sist­ing that they would only have di­a­logue with the op­po­si­tion once Keny­atta is sworn in.

Two pe­ti­tions have been filed at the Supreme Court to chal­lenge the in­cum­bent’s win.

“You are day-dream­ing by de­mand­ing for a tran­si­tion gov­ern­ment to pre­pare a fresh elec­tion,” Ju­bilee law­maker Ce­cily Mbarire told NASA leader Raila Odinga on Mon­day.

“Odinga has thrown the con­sti­tu­tion out of the win­dow and us­ing jun­gle law to get power,” she said. “An in­terim gov­ern­ment is not pro­vided for by any Kenyan law.”

On the other hand, those in NASA have threat­ened to swear in Raila Odinga if Keny­atta is sworn into of­fice. They hold onto the po­si­tion that Odinga’s win was stolen on Au­gust 8.

“If they will swear in Keny­atta, we will swear in Raila Odinga. Let them have their coun­try, we would also form ours,” NASA MP Gladys Wanga told a cheer­ing crowd in Nairobi on Sun­day.

NASA lead­ers in the mean­time have re­sorted to hold­ing rallies rais­ing po­lit­i­cal tem­per­a­tures in the coun­try, amid prod­ucts boy­cott and for­ma­tion of Peo­ple’s Assem­blies, two other strate­gies they have adopted.

“Op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga is to ar­rive back into the coun­try on Fri­day. To this ef­fect, we wel­come all Kenyans to a rally on Thurs­day,” said a state­ment by Sen­a­tor James Orengo on Mon­day. “The rally will be a dress re­hearsal for the Fri­day grand wel­come.”

The on­go­ing po­lit­i­cal rhetoric is di­vid­ing Kenyans fur­ther as cit­i­zens strive to eke out a liv­ing fol­low­ing a lengthy elec­tion­eer­ing pe­riod.

The grand­stand­ing, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts, is wors­en­ing Kenya’s po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion as most cit­i­zens be­lieve what their lead­ers tell them.

“When a leader calls for se­ces­sion, not once, but thrice, cit­i­zens be­gin cre­at­ing the im­pres­sion of hav­ing their own coun­try in their minds,” said Henry Wan­dera, an eco­nomics lec­turer in Nairobi.

“This is dan­ger­ous for Kenya be­cause it is a threat to unity,” he said.

Benji Ndolo, a lawyer in Nairobi, reck­oned that the op­po­si­tion may not be mean­ing all that it is say­ing, but is us­ing var­i­ous strate­gies to push for its course.

“I doubt NASA will move for­ward with the threat of swear­ing in Raila,” he said.

Peter Kag­wanja, a po­lit­i­cal strate­gist al­lied to Ju­bilee, ac­cused the op­po­si­tion of en­gag­ing in arm-twist­ing tac­tics to force a coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

“Op­po­si­tion is spon­sor­ing boy­cotts and protests to force di­a­logue, unity gov­ern­ment and power-shar­ing, which casts a dark shadow on the coun­try’s econ­omy,” he said.

“The coun­try may have suc­cess­fully pulled back from the brink fol­low­ing dis­puted polls, but the dilemma of lib­eral democ­racy is far from over.”

Le­gal scholar Makau Mu­tua, who leans to­ward NASA, be­lieves that Odinga and his team are fight­ing for a just cause — against ex­clu­sion per­pet­u­ated by the Kenyan po­lit­i­cal sys­tem where the win­ner takes all.

“Those in Ju­bilee feel they are in power le­git­i­mately and can’t over­come the con­science of those who be­lieve the regime is il­le­git­i­mate. And those in NASA feel they have been robbed vic­tory and ex­cluded from gov­ern­ment,” said Mu­tua.

Mu­tua roots for the de­struc­tion of the pres­i­den­tial sys­tem of gov­ern­ment to end the cul­ture of ex­clu­sion.

“We need to adopt an ex­plic­itly par­lia­men­tary sys­tem of gov­ern­ment with a con­sti­tu­tional for­mula that de­nies po­lit­i­cal par­ties a tribal base,” he said.

Uhuru Keny­atta

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