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Conceding defeat best solution to averting a political crisis in polls

By Desmond Boi | Published Wed, August 9th 2017 at 00:56, Updated August 9th 2017 at 01:00 GMT +3

Polling clerks and agents keep vigil at a Kiambu polling station during a Jubilee Party nominations on April 25

The ability to honourably accept defeat by political contestants in Tuesday's polls will go a long way in avoiding unnecessary political chaos.

We cannot downplay the fact that we need cohesiveness now more than any time in history.

The world is watching. It is not only in the interest of diplomacy and to seek investment opportunities in this richly endowed nation, but more so to us who want to live in a peaceful country and undertake our businesses in a conducive environment.

Economic slump

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Admittedly, the economic slumps are immense every election year in our country with the growth rates almost going below that of the Sub-Saharan region average. Investors have now embraced a wait-and-see attitude in approaching the opportunities available in our country, a situation that could hurt the economy further should a political crisis erupt after the polls.

Conceding defeat by those candidates who will lose the seats they are vying for will help restore confidence in the political and economic realms of our country.

The 2007 violence erupted after a presidential candidate refused to accept the outcome of the elections and the resultant utterances from politicians trickled down to cause animosity.

When the political class learns to solve their dissatisfaction in the polls through the right channels as they call upon their followers to remain calm, we will have made a tremendous step in averting possible chaos.

We may need to learn from Ghana’s presidential elections held in early December last year, where conceding was critical to evading chaos.

The then incumbent President John Mahama conceded defeat to Nana Akufo Addo upon the announcement of winner. In a similarly mature and inspiring reaction, President Akufo Addo calmed his supporters who were grumbling over alleged delay in the announcement of his victory by the electoral body.

Nearly at a similar time, we could also well remember the anarchy and turmoil former autocratic President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia caused his people when he refused to concede defeat.

Politicians not only deny people the chance to have a peaceful co-existence and electing their leaders, but also clearly undermine the democratic process which they willingly accept to be part of by virtue of being on the ballot by refusing to accept defeat when results do not go in their favour.

Flimsy accusations of a rigged election against the backdrop of the recent efforts that have attempted to taint the electoral body and other national agencies meant to constitutionally work with the IEBC will not build up to chaotic compulsion among the electorate.

With 16,259 candidates having vied for only 1,882 positions in the upcoming polls, it was one of the hotly contested elections in the history of Kenya’s elective politics; recording the largest number of losers in elections in Kenya since independence. That’s palpable enough and crystal clear that it will call for more maturity and respect for the will of Kenyans from the contestants to accept defeat in the polls.

It will save Kenyans the hassle of being taken for a ride by rogue politicians with ill motive, whose goodwill for a peaceful Kenya is not in their hearts. While the IEBC makes the efforts to deliver credible, fair and transparent polls, this co-operation will make every single vote of the 19.6 million voters expected to participate in the polls bring the voice and change Kenyans want heard and felt.

Political processes

As we call upon the political class to respect the political process, it is equally imperative that Kenyans desist from being incited to violence.

Much as there are strong convictions of victory among a majority of contestants and the electorate to their preferred candidates, we must remember this is a competition that must have winners and losers. Kenyans should therefore prepare to accept the outcomes soberly.

This is a noble attitude that could save us the time and resources in a gratuitous political crisis post-2017 General Election.

Mr. Boi is a monitoring and Evaluation [email protected]


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