Kenya: The Government and Opposition Viewpoints

Published on 21st November 2017

What next for the Opposition leaders after the Supreme Court legitimised the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta? This question  lingers in thousands of Kenyans’ minds. Some Kenyans are still wondering what the Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, will pronounce next and whether his statement would make or break the country already polarized along ethnic lines.

As Opposition fans still look forward to solutions to the current political debacle, Jubilee cohorts are already buoyant of Kenyatta’s victory. They claim his election was valid and legitimate and that they followed all the due processes to elect the President. Nothing should thus stop them from swearing in the President next week on Tuesday. This is despite the threats by Opposition also to hold a parallel swearing in ceremony to declare NASA leader Raila Odinga as the People’s President.  Whether this will succeed, time will tell.

The Jubilee party’s  proposition is abundantly proclaimed by Majority leader in the House, Aden Duale and Elgeyo Marakwet Senator, Kipchumba Murkomen, who is the senate majority leader. For them, Jubilee’s government is legitimately elected. The next course of action therefore should be how to amend the constitution to build legitimacy and promote democracy. This is why, they have come up with a raft of constitutional amendments and proposed electoral reforms to entrench democracy after Kenyans blamed the electoral body of several election malfeasance.

Among the proposed changes was requirement that the IEBC chairperson be a person who is qualified to hold the office of judge of the Supreme Court under the Constitution. That clause removes the requirement that the chair be a lawyer.  It provides for the vice-chair to automatically become the head of the commission in the absence of the chair. If both the chair and the vice-chair are absent, the commissioners present can elect one of themselves to act as chair.

On the commission: The changes reduced the quorum of the commission from five to half of the existing members but not less than three. Then again in circumstances where there is no unanimity on a decision, matters would be decided by a majority of the commissioners present and voting.

On the management of a presidential election, the new electoral laws provide for concurrent electronic and manual transmission of tabulated results from polling stations to the constituency and national tallying centre, publishing of the result forms in a public portal and if there is a discrepancy between the manual and electronically transmitted results, the prevailing of the manual, among others. This affirms the Jubilee’s commitment to build on legitimacy and democracy as is the political trend across the globe among political parties.  They have used the tyranny of numbers to push the changes through even as NASA cried foul.

The Opposition leaders too, are exploring all legal and democratic tenets. They argue that the election of the President is illegal in the sense that it did not reflect the entire popular will of Kenyans. Instinctively, they advance the notion that under Article 138 of the Elections Act, the exercise is supposed to reflect the will of the people. Given that 29 constituencies, majority in Nyanza, did not take part in the repeat Presidential polls on October 26 as was decreed by the Supreme Court, there is no justification for Jubilee to claim absolute victory. So in their political prism, the elections were merely a public relations exercise meant to rubberstamp Jubilee’s authority in power, what they have termed as imperial or autocratic presidency.  They have formed the NASA resistance movement to object the Jubilee regime.

NASA leaders, using the People’s Assembly outfit  are also out   to amend the archaic electoral laws and to build legitimacy and democracy within the premise of the law. Now this is the current tug of war from each side insisting that their political actions are legitimate to precision. In spite of the setbacks they have borne from security forces, NASA adherents have remained resilient on their march to Canaan. 

Last week, when Raila returned from an overseas trip, he was a casualty of teargas in an accident where many were felled by the bullet. Listening to several opposition leaders’ speeches, be it Siaya Senator James Orengo, ODM chairman John Mbadi, or Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetangula or Kisumu County Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, one cannot fail to sense their spirit of determination. It’s precise to the point- Resist till justice and equity prevail in the redistribution of the national resources. One of the arguments they advance is that when people are denied power and subjected to external authority they need vehicles to exercise their self-determination and exert their power.  This is the main concept behind the formation of the People's Assembly as the only current instrument through which the disenfranchised people will exert their power, and practice democracy meaning -the rule of the people for the people, by the people.”  Each day, they continue to defend and explain that there is absolutely nothing wrong for opposition fans to make direct decisions about their economic, social and cultural operations, if they feel excluded from the central leadership.

By Kepher Okongo

The writer is a political analyst and consulting Editor.

[email protected]

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