On the 6th of November, this year, the Americans will go to the polls to elect a new president. Early the following morning, the whole world will know whom they will have elected.
Barring death or disability, that man will be either the incumbent, President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, a former governor of the state of Massachusetts
Almost exactly four months later, we here in Kenya will also go to the polls to elect a new president. Under the new systems and procedures being set up by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, early the following morning, we also shall have known who will have been elected as the fourth President of Kenya, if there is to be no run-off.
On paper, these two events, occurring four months and thousands of miles and kilometers apart, appear independent and unrelated. That is as it should be. But is that the way it is going to be?
Could it turn out that the results of the American presidential elections in November could, to some extent, determine the final outcome of the Kenyan presidential elections?
And, if that eventuality was to become both a possibility and a probability, how should the major presidential candidates in this country be preparing to deal with it?
Statistically, there are only two possible outcomes in the looming Kenyan presidential sweepstakes. Since the latest opinion polls still show Raila Odinga as the most popular single candidate, the most likely outcomes are Raila and Another, whoever that other person might turn out to be. As we have just seen, in the American presidential election, there are also only two possible outcomes: Obama and Romney.
Let us suppose that, on November 7th, we wake up to find that Romney has won the American presidential elections. What would that executive outcome mean for our own presidential race? Would it matter to Romney and his closest Republican Party advisors, who wins the Kenyan presidential elections?
Does Romney know where, on the map of Africa, Kenya actually lies? Does he know the difference between Kenya and Nairobi? Has he ever heard of a man called Raila Odinga or others called Uhuru Kenyatta or Musalia Mudavadi?
Hardly, I should think. If you grow up a Mormon in the American heartland, you don’t get to know such names. And no reporter will ask an American presidential candidate whether he knows the difference between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. This is why I think President Romney would not care a hoot who wins the Kenyan presidential race.
But what if the Americans re-elect President Obama in November? Would the American and Kenyan presidential elections still remain independent and unrelated events occurring four months and thousands of kilometers apart?