Despite Second Attempt at Presidential Election, Kenya’s Crisis Continues
By Tysan, October 30, 2017: Warning that Kenya is in “grave danger,” opposition leader Raila Odinga said in an interview with The Associated Press that the second round presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court ended up being a sham and that a third attempt should be held within 90 days.
The Supreme Court, led by a chief justice who is an Adventist, nullified the presidential segment of the original election held on August 8 and ordered the re-try on October 26 last week.
With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the electoral commission says that President Uhuru Kenyatta has 7.1 million votes. Odinga said that the electoral commission (the CEO is an Adventist) is boosting the number of votes for Kenyatta. Odinga believes that the votes for Kenyatta could be no more than 3.5 million of the country’s 19.6 million registered voters. Odinga had urged his supporters to boycott the election because he felt it could not be conducted fairly with the same electoral commission staff who conducted the aborted August 8 balloting.
A senator from the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition party has called for the two former presidents Mwai Kibaki and Daniel Arap Moi to come out of retirement and help ending the crisis. The two former presidents could convene talks to end the current political stalemate.
NASA leaders have also threatened to swear in their candidate as president if the electoral commission declares Kenyatta the winner. The opposition party refuses to recognize the October 26 “sham election” said Senator James Orengo on KTN News.
Orengo went on to say that NASA does not recognize Kenyatta as president. “It is our decision that he cannot use the October 26 election to be sworn in because that will be an act of treason. The executive authority of Kenya is with the people. The constitution says you have the sovereignty, not him. … Kenyatta will go home and Raila Odinga will come to be the president of Kenya.”
The opposition party is adamant about a fresh election being held within 90 days after branding the poll last week a sham and waste of resources. Orengo and former Senator Boni Khalwale were in Athi River to visit with victims of gun violence between residents and the police related to the election. As Adventist Today reported last week, Odinga withdrew from the repeat election, saying the outcome had already been pre-determined. He said that the electoral commission could not hold a credible election, referring to remarks by commission chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioner Roslyne Akombe who quit and fled for her life.
The opposition maintains that Odinga won the original August 8 election according to the results from their parallel tallying center. The electoral commission, however, declared President Kenyatta re-elected. NASA petitioned against the presidential election results and the Supreme Court ordered the repeat election.
There is widespread fear of violence in Kenya and some people have left the country worried about the possible outbreak of civil war. Our Adventist Today reporter has witnessed crowds of people in a large bus station where the fares have doubled and tripled because there is not sufficient space for those wishing to travel out of Nairobi.
Chaos has broken out in recent days in several places that are seen as strongholds for NASA as local residents resisted the voting process. These included Vihiga, Bungoma, Kisumu and parts of Nairobi. The latest clashes in Nairobi saw three people dead as NASA and Jubilee supporters confronted each other in Kawangware on Friday (October 27).
Clashes between police and opposition supporters broke out in some parts of Kenya in recent days, as well as postponement of voting in several opposition strongholds where polling stations were unable to open because of security problems. At least eight people have been killed by police in the protests since the vote last week. All together, at least 70 people have lost their lives so far and more than 60 cases of sexual assault have been reported, according to the Elections Observation Group (ELOG), a civil society organization.
Fears of inter-tribal violence are rife. A Luo man was killed overnight Sunday in a clash between his tribe, which supports Odinga, and the Kalenjin group, which supports Kenyatta.
As we have reported in the Commentary section of Adventist Today, Kenya suffered a similar political stalemate in 2007 with new retired President Mwai Kibaki and Odinga at the center of it all. That has been considered the darkest times in the country in recent decades and many lives were lost, including a number of Adventists.
Odinga has pledged to use only peaceful and legal means of resistance, declaring that the only topic which he will discuss with President Kenyatta is how a third try at a clean election can be held soon. NASA leaders have pointed to the methods employed by Mahatma Ghandi in India and Martin Luther King in the United States.
“Our constitution in Article 1 says that if the government imposes itself on the people, the people have a right to self-determination,” Odinga stated. “People also have a right to disobey the orders coming from such a government. We’re going to do peaceful resistance, not through demonstrations, but through other methods we’re going to announce. … NASA will announce a series of measures that we’ll take in order to bring pressure on this government to step aside … civil disobedience and not armed resistance.”
Adventist Today talked with several Adventists on Sabbath at a number of churches around Nairobi. Some church members said they wonder what kind of government does not want to let go after so many of the people of Kenya have shown how much they dislike it. At the Iaiser Hill Church, one of the largest Adventist congregations in Nairobi, a local elder said, “As an Adventist church we are non-partisan in politics and we always preach peace so as that peace can enable us the freedom to worship.”
Adventist Today observed a large number of Kisii people in the congregation and using the Kisii language. The elder told Adventist Today, “Over 90 percent of our members are Kisii. Some Luos are with us, who are not more than 20 [in number] and even a few Kikuyu, [and] we do give them a chance to lead in the church because we are one when it comes to Christ.” The political divisions do place strains on the unity of the believers.
Elder Kepha Makori from the Oloika Adventist Church was the guest speaker at Iaiser Hill Church on Sabbath. “Where we are heading is not where we should go,” he said. “We should look forward to where the solution can be collected peacefully and the crisis solved.” Adventist Today has a video of the interview which can be viewed here.
Adventist Today has a reporter in Nairobi to cover the election and will provide continued information. The featured photo is of a ballot box full of ballots from the voting last week.