Wangui Muchiri, ONE’s Africa Communications Manager, discusses Kenya’s recent elections and celebrates their free and fair assessment.
The real winners of the Kenyan election to me are first and foremost, Kenyans. Kudos for maintaining peace and calm through out the electioneering and election period against all odds and predictions. Now more than ever, as the world continues to watch, Kenya needs to uphold the virtues espoused in their national anthem: Peace. Love. Unity.
Kenya’s election has received a nod from several institutions, the AU, European Union, Canada, South Africa, China amongst others, as having been free and fair.
Kenyan Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta casts his vote. Photo credit: www.telegraph.co.uk
Contrary to widespread predictions that the race would end in a runoff, President-elect Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was able to receive more than 50 percent of the votes cast in the first round as required by the constitution for a candidate to be declared president. His main challenger, Raila Odinga, has not conceded and will be going to the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the polls. In all this a key proud moment for Kenyans is that its new Constitution more than proved the value of the paper it is written on, Kenya’s political leaders and Kenyans as a whole honored it.
Right now, the issue at the top of everyone’s mind is what the President elect’s International Criminal Court (ICC) case means for the governance of Kenya. One school of thought, as expressed by the Brookings Institution says, that Kenyans have seen the ICC intervention in Kenya as largely a political, rather than judicial, process. They contend that a large fraction of Kenyans have come to regard the ICC intervention as an attempt to remove both Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, from political contention rather than seek justice for the victims of the violence.
Supporters of Kenyatta believe the ICC being seen as foreign intervention strengthened Kenyatta’s campaign. Photo credit: latitude.blogs.nytimes.com
On the other hand, there is a school of thought that contends the ICC did not invite itself to Kenya. The ICC intervened in this case after Kenya’s parliament were unable to establish a local tribunal to try the crimes that followed the 2008 election.
Since the just concluded election, there have been more developments on the ICC front. The ICC has dropped their case against Uhuru’s co-accused, former civil service head, Francis Muthaura, on the grounds of lacking sufficient evidence. The prosecution has since admitted that it has dropped 5 witnesses in the Ruto-Arap Sang case, while it has dropped 7 witnesses in the Uhuru-Muthaura case.
As a result, a status conference in the ICC court against Kenya’s president-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta, is set for Monday, March 18.
In his victory acceptance speech, Kenya’s president–elect said he would continue to cooperate with the ICC, but at the same time asked the international community to respect Kenya’s sovereignty.
Whichever way it goes, Kenya’s election shows that Kenya has come of age, and the resolve of its people across the deep tribal divides to maintain peace and calm in Kenya is to be hailed. This is a new dawn for Kenya.