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Don't leave anything to chance; so much is at stake for Kenya tomorrow

By The Standard | Published Mon, August 7th 2017 at 00:00, Updated August 6th 2017 at 23:42 GMT +3

Ahead of tomorrow’s General Election, it would be dishonest and plainly naive to deny that a level of tension, however mild, has gripped parts of the country, prompting many people to worry about what might happen. Tellingly, the fear of the unknown is palpable, but not far-fetched.

There are Government guarantees that the fear of violence is unfounded; that the security services are on full alert to ensure the country remains peaceful.

That is as well, but three institutions; the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Executive and the Judiciary owe to Kenyans to ensure the peace is maintained by all means. The fear of violence only becomes worse if any of them drops the ball.

But despite a level of mistrust occasioned by legal tussles between NASA, Jubilee and IEBC, these institutions should not leave anything to chance.

The 2007/08 post-election violence was blamed on the Executive leaning on the then Electoral Commission of Kenya and the eroded faith in the Judiciary.

A decade later, things are different; there is a new electoral body in place, the Judiciary has been reformed and the separation of powers is quite clear. Chances of things going pear-shaped are minimal, but it could still go wrong.

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It would be a major feat were the elections to go on without a hitch. That is the least we expect from the IEBC and all the other bodies critical to this process.

They should give no room for cries of foul play. They should uphold the tenets of democracy and ensure that fair play obtains.

There is still a lot to worry about. That 11,000 (about 25 per cent of the nearly 40,000) polling centres lack 3G or 4G internet connectivity or whether a stamp is needed on a ballot or not could raise a few eyebrows.

The guarantee of security and safety of the voters, indeed all Kenyans, is crucial to the believability of the poll results, but in their zeal to maintain law and order, the police, as has happened before, could trigger, rather than deter, chaos and violence.

They should enforce the law and implement crowd-control tactics that don’t create panic and disquiet among the population. That by itself will go a long way in minimising confrontation that is often a precursor to full-blown violence among groups.

There is no doubt that tomorrows elections represent a turning point: it is the first General Election after the roll-out of devolution.

Indeed, it is easy to attribute the enthusiasm to vote with what came with devolution; a new layer of leadership at the county level that has no doubt increased accessibility and competition in our politics.

Meanwhile, for the second time in less than five years, Kenya is being treated to another sequel of the Kenyatta/Odinga political rivalry. The former is represented by Uhuru Kenyatta while the latter is represented by Raila Odinga. The two dynasties have been at the centre of Kenya's politics since before independence. Whatever the outcome, these two men owe it to their sires and Kenyans to ensure that all goes well and that there will be room for a handshake when the dust settles.

Equally, the people should keep in mind that the sun will still rise after tomorrow.

The next phase is even more critical than the first.

The voters, having sifted fact from fiction and gauged the characters of those who seek to lead them during the campaigns, should reflect on who will best serve them.

Some of those out there campaigning are snake oil salesmen.The people should reject their well-rehearsed chicanery.

It is time to separate the wheat from the chaff. Only those deserving to lead this country should be given a chance.

The undeserving cheats, and there are many of them, should be thrown into the dustbins of history. They are the ones obstructing our forward progress. 

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