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What next for Raila after poll boycott?

The presidential election that Opposition leader Raila Odinga, went overboard to stop finally happened. Raila, who pulled out of the race, is a man with many issues to ponder. He had promised his supporters there would be no election, only to realise that the exercise would go on anyway, with or without his participation.

Raila and his cohorts have been shouting themselves hoarse at rallies and press conferences over this. But even as he and his cohorts face possible criminal charges for intimidation and violence against officials of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), it is his future that he now needs to be worrying about, and his place in Kenyan history.

History is replete with political characters, nay, tribal chieftains, who grew larger than life, decided that the presidency was theirs by right, and if the numbers did not support that entitlement, they would use other means to enforce this.

This has been the lot of such characters as Jonas Savimbi of Angola, who brought huge misery in Angola with his senseless and ultimately unsuccessful war, and Alfonso Dhlakama, leader of opposition Renamo party in Mozambique, who has caused outbursts of violence after every election by refusing to accept the results.

For Raila, who has never accepted poll results in all attempts he made, he had two stark choices which would determine his legacy. The first choice is the route to peace and prosperity both for him and Kenya. Raila should have decided to participate in the fresh election without causing the current tension.

After the election, he would then allow IEBC to announce the results and accept the outcome, if it does not favour him. This route would have provided a tremendous boost to the country as it would result in a considerable de-escalation of tensions and anxiety that his utterances and those of his lieutenants have caused.

Indeed, the economy would rebound almost immediately after this, and within three months, it would have recovered a lot of lost ground. A grateful country would then forgive him for all the shenanigans he has taken it through since the annulment of the August 8 election by the Supreme Court. Raila had a second choice, which he picked.

He continued the current brinkmanship of insisting there would be no election. And, indeed, he ensured voting did not take place in his strongholds, with IEBC calling off the exercise in four counties—Siaya, Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay.

In this, he was cornered, thus he resorted to changing the Opposition coalition’s name fron National Super Alliance (Nasa) to National Resistance Movement. When the dust settles and IEBC declares the winner of yesterday’s election, Raila can choose to go to the Supreme Court, seeking another annulment of an election he disrupted so that he can have evidence for nullification.

This follows the same pattern as the August 8 election, where it is suspected that rogue returning officers refused to sign results forms to give grounds to Nasa election petition. It is highly unlikely, however, that the Supreme Court will accept to be led by the nose a second time.

This route will only continuing losing him support, which has already been eroded considerably, going by the massive defections he has faced from former allies who have abandoned him since August 8.

He will go down in ignominy as the Jonas Savimbi of Kenya, a selfish politician who held his country hostage to his unbridled ambition for an elusive presidency. The choice is his, and it is that stark.

It is no secret all the demands he made before he could agree to participate in the repeat election were mere excuses. He needs to take some time from the hardliners around him to be able to think clearly about this matter.

And even as he mulls his choices, he might want to be reminded that there is a petition before the International Criminal Court (ICC) seeking to have him and his running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, to be probed for preparing to unleash violence to force a nusu mkate government.

Some of his inflammatory utterances and those of his cohorts, demonstrate elaborate arrangements have been made for violence, might very well convince the prosecutor that Raila should take his place among the warlords.

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