Kenyans face this week’s repeat presidential poll ordered by the Supreme Court and slated for October 26 with a mixture of hope, anxiety and trepidation. Hope is driven by desire to fulfil a democratic right to choose their leaders. Anxiety, apprehension and even trepidation because threats have been made that the Thursday poll could be disrupted, at least in some places.
How Kenyans wish political players who identify with the ruling Jubilee Party and Opposition Nasa at all levels, would engage more maturely to ease the current tensions and uncertainty and approach the election with more open minds!
If only political leaders would rededicate themselves to doing considerably more to close their deep mutual respect gap, Kenyans would be out of the woods. If only the calls decrying trading of insults, insolence, heated rhetoric, intransigence, threats of violence would sink in, negative passions would be doused.
Unfortunately, the ordinary Kenyan is vulnerable and easily predisposed to irrational tendencies when in herd mode. This has been our undoing in recent weeks, with street protest which the criminally inclined have tapped into with tragic consequences. What this entails is that the police and other security forces respond to mob misadventures proportionately and impartially.
Political competition should not be turned into a life and death matter. With an eye on the Thursday poll and coming from celebrating Mashujaa Day, patriotism should tower over negative ethnicity. It was the Independence heroes vision of prosperity as one nation that they made the huge personal sacrifices. Under the current circumstances, solution within the framework of the Constitution would match the vision of our founding fathers. It would be the boldest expression of the spirit that our partisan interests are elevated to the common good. It is time to return to reason, re-focus on messages of hope, optimism and a get on with our lives.
There are huge costs in getting stuck in permanent election mode. As things stand, it is already impacting adversely on our socio-economic well being. The current convulsions, including violent street protests have led to deaths, injuries and destruction of property, negating the very basic tenets of democracy while eroding democratic credentials. What’s more, the violence and other negative issues surrounding the political standoff are a stain on our collective conscience and now threaten to drag our prestige as a country which has painstakingly built economic, diplomatic and geo-strategic leverage well beyond the East African region on the kind of muck usually associated with banana republics.
The doctrine of separation of powers where Parliament, Judiciary and the Executive play complementary roles is meant to entrench democratic practice. Our Constitution and laws must be interpreted by the Bench and the Bar pragmatically for the good of all, not selectively or in away that precipitates confusion.
Kenya comes first and political players must reign in self-interest and their supporters against nihilist excesses. Senseless political rivalry should not push Kenya to the edge. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to and must deliver free, fair and credible poll. However, this becomes a huge challenge if the demands politicians make on them are both untenable and unreasonable or if we allow threats and violence to be unleashed on officials as they execute their mandate. Their ability to deliver should be facilitated by everybody, led by political players to help create an environment where free, fair and credible election is more than just a slogan.
IEBC too, must not cease making efforts to accelerate discussions with stakeholders so that acceptable election management rules, guided by fairness and transparency, are arrived at.
The right to vote is sacrosanct and those planning disruptions are embracing an exercise that is the very antithesis of the right to choice, a cornerstone of democracy. Conversely, those who decide not to vote will also have exercised their right to a choice.
God bless Kenya.
The country must never let itself be driven to inertia by fear, for in a state of uncertainty, suspicion and threats, the demonic hand that seeks to destroy us will reign.