from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – RAILA Odinga’s pursuance of the legal route after rejecting the Kenyan presidential election result is a last desperate throw of the dice to secure a job that has evaded him for 25 years.
From his first attempt in 1997, to the last one held last Tuesday, Odinga will go down the annals of history as the “nearly-man” of Kenyan politics.
He has lost to four men, Daniel Arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki, Uhuru Kenyatta (twice) and now William Ruto.
While he is within his right to approach the courts, there is no doubt, with age not on his side, the just-ended poll presented the last realistic chance of winning the presidency.
Odinga (77) will be 82 years old by the time the East African country holds its next presidential election. If he wins that poll in 2027, he will be 87 when he, hypothetically, completes that first term.
Now that another election has resulted in another loss, challenging the results at the Supreme Court is his only hope of ascending to the State House.
That challenge ought to be filed before Ruto’s inauguration on August 30.
On Tuesday, a day after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced Ruto (22 years Odinga’s junior) as the president-elect, Odinga rejected that outcome.
Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the IEBC, on Monday announced Ruto as the winner with 50,49 percent of the vote to Odinga’s 48,85 percent.
“The figures announced by Chebukati are null and void and must be quashed by a court of law,” Odinga denounced.
“In our view, there is neither a legally and validly declared winner nor a president-elect. Mr Chebukati’s announcement purporting to announce a winner is a nullity,” Odinga said.
The address from his campaign headquarters in downtown Nairobi was the first time Odinga spoke of the outcome. It reinforced the position by his Azamio La Umoja coalition at the National Tallying Centre on Monday.
To critics of the former Prime Minister, it is monotonous that Odinga has rejected previous polls he has participated in.
However, his latest rejection of the outcome is emboldened by a split in the IEBC after four commissioners, including vice chairperson, Juliana Cherera, disowned the exercise that confirmed Ruto as the winner.
They have been running parallel conference to the IEBC’s.
Cherera claimed the process which Chebukati used to declare results of the election was “opaque and incapable of earning our ownership and confidence.”
However, there is belief the four IEBC commissioners opposed to the handling of the tallying exercise are only being factional in that they are alleged loyalists to the exiting president, Kenyatta.
Kenyatta endorsed longtime rival, Odinga, and snubbed his deputy, Ruto, for the just-concluded elections.
Odinga will find solace in that in 2017, the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s election victory and ordered a new presidential election.
Odinga pulled out of the second election, citing lack of reforms at IEBC and withdrawals from his coalition.
Some allies believe it is high time the veteran let go.
Ngunjiri Wambugu, Director of Political Affairs in Odinga’s futile 2013 campaign is among these.
“My friend and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga should accept and concede defeat so that we can open the economy of Kenya,” Wambugu stated.
Prominent lawyer, Mugambi Nandi, disclosed flying from United Kingdom to vote for Odinga and his running mate, Martha Karua.
Nandi is not convinced by Odinga’s challenge although he believes his campaign was better than that of the Kenya Kwanza of Ruto.
“I think it’s in the country’s best interest that you (Odinga) concede,” the legal expert stated.
Lawyer Donald Kipkorir believes despite the losses, Odinga has contributed positively to Kenya “than any other Kenyan dead or alive.”
“We enjoy the democracy we have courtesy of him,” he said.
“Few may demur but history will be kinder to him. I pray to the Almighty God that He comforts Raila and his family,” Kipkorir stated.
Atito Mwalimu, a supporter, bemoaned the incessant “humiliation” of Odinga in every poll.
“I therefore sincerely request Chief Justice (Martha) Koome to do him a favour by upholding Ruto’s election,” Mwalimu said.
Odinga noted that as “the terrible memories of the aftermath of the 2007 general election are still fresh in our minds” Kenyans must not take the law into their own hands.
“We’re pursuing constitutional and lawful channels and processes to invalidate Chebukati’s illegal and unconstitutional announcement. We are certain that justice will prevail,” Odinga said.
Violence following a disputed poll in 2007 left over 1 000 people dead and 600 000 others displaced.
Odinga was Prime Minister in an inclusive government that ended the political crisis.
There were some pockets of violence, particularly in Odinga’s Kisumu stronghold after Monday’s announcement.
Joseph Kinyua, head of Public Service and Chairperson of the National Security Advisory Committee, said the nation remained peaceful and secure.
The committee met on Tuesday.
“I therefore call on all Kenyans and the business community to resume their normal daily activities and get back to the business of rebuilding our great nation,” Kinyua said.
– CAJ News