Elections 2017OPINIONPeople Daily

Kenyans must accept election can go either way

Campaigns for the General Election have entered the homestretch. With less than one month of campaigns, candidates cannot afford to leave anything to chance.

The main political formations, Jubilee and Nasa are stomping the grounds, addressing packed rallies even in their opponents’ strongholds. Both have a reasonable expectation of victory. So far, the country has been quiet despite the heated electioneering.

Politicians have largely restrained themselves from inflammatory rhetoric. Episodes of violence remain sporadic and muted. This bodes well for the election. It is, therefore, disturbing when a well known academic, David Ndii, makes an incendiary statement on the elections.

Ndii said that “if Uhuru Kenyatta is declared winner in another sham election, this country will burn”. There are several questions Ndii should answer. Who will be doing the burning? Who will provide the fuel?

Is Ndii himself going to be among the arsonists, going by how incensed he seems to be by the prospect of an Uhuru victory, or will he be sitting comfortably at home in his secure neighbourhood watching others die from the fires he lit?

These are the kind of irresponsible statements that wrought the 2007/08 post-election violence. Ndii needs to be made to explain himself immediately. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) must not allow him to get away with this one.

This is because others like him who want to disrupt the peace for selfish motives will be emboldened if Ndii is not made to answer for his utterances. He even declared on national television that he stands by his statement! Really?

Francis ole Kaparo, where are you? If the International Criminal Court is watching Kenya for inciters as its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has said, then she knows which statements to start filing away.

The other statement made along the same lines was by some Nasa co-principals who declared that there is no way Jubilee can win unless it rigs. Where do people get the nerve to make such outrageous statements? Yes, you might think you have the numbers but you are not in control of 19 million voters and their actions on election day. In any case, what is the sentiment on the ground?

All opinion polls predict a close though comfortable win for Uhuru. So, on what basis are these wild statements being made? People must stop pretending that an election becomes credible only when one side of the political divide says so.

Thousands of election observers who monitored the 2013 election were unanimous that the election reflected the will of the people. That notwithstanding, Cord still insists the election was “stolen”.

You cannot be a player, and still insist on refereeing and announcing the result. These self-serving narratives are dangerous and must stop unless they are part of a more nefarious plan. The only conclusion one can arrive at is that some political players are trying to recreate a certain narrative.

Kenyans will recall that in 2007, ODM had declared victory before the elections, and went round the country stating that they could only be beaten if the election was rigged. That is the narrative that is being reconstructed. But 2017 is not 2007.

Kenyans are now more mature and can see through politicians who want to create chaos for their own selfish ends. Nasa candidate Raila Odinga rarely gets any credit for moving to the Supreme Court in 2013 when he felt aggrieved by the election results. He also did not get enough credit for accepting the Supreme Court decision despite his reservations.

Even now, this is what both top presidential candidates, Uhuru and Raila, must publicly commit to. Raila should not think that it is only he who can get aggrieved by the result. This is an election- who knows what will happen?

It is not that candidates will not feel aggrieved when they lose. It is that they must learn to be civilised, and take their grievances to the court for redress. Calling people out on the streets must never be allowed to happen again.

If this is what Ndii, and the cabal who seem to control him have in mind, he should be behind bars by now. As the American Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said, no Kenyan should die because of an election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has done a commendable job in trying to rein in politicians who are perpetuating violence. Already senior politicians have been summoned, grilled, fined, and bonded to keep the peace.

Others have been barred from contesting for infringing electoral laws. The IEBC has demonstrated seriousness in playing its role to ensure a peaceful and credible election.

The one thing it must guard jealously, is the conduct of a credible election. It is imperative that like in 2013, all election observers give it a clean bill of health. It will then matter little what individual politicians say.

What all this means is that every Kenyan must be ready to accept that their candidate, especially in the presidential and governor seat contests, could lose. This is a competition, and only one side can win. As the Swahili saying goes “Asiyekubali kushindwa, si mshindani.” [email protected]

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