In yesterday’s editorial, we drew attention to the next phase of the electoral process after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission conducted what were peaceful elections by any standards.
True to urging by our leaders, Kenyans woke early to avail themselves of the opportunity to elect their leaders in a democratic way. They had a variety from which they had to choose only the best.
It was the culmination of two months of intense campaigns in which different cadres of leaders tried to sell their ideologies to the electorate. The campaigns, needless to add, were charged as each side of the political divide sought advantage over opponents but despite that, the observance of peace was the theme at each rally.
To ensure that leaders remained on the straight and narrow, IEBC exercised its mandate by summoning, interrogating and imposing heavy fines on a few errant leaders who failed to control their followers following reports that some had turned rowdy; upset laid down regulations and occasioned deaths at rallies.
By the time polling came to a close Tuesday this week, no incidences of violence had been reported anywhere, giving the hope all would be well even knowing the process of opening ballot boxes, counting the ballots and announcing the results was a tricky exercise.
Perhaps having taken cognizance of this fact, the Cabinet Secretaries for Information Communication Technology Joe Mucheru and Internal Security Fred Matiangi warned the media from announcing results. Though such edicts are a violation of media freedom and the citizen’s right to information, the media, ever the advocate for peace, stayed within those constraints.
IEBC’s posting of results as they started to trickle in was met with a lot of anxiety; which is understandable enough given the stakes in the outcome.
At some point results were not posted as regularly as expected rumours swirled around that reached a crescendo whenRaila Odinga, the Opposition's presidential candidate gave a press conference to express reservations over the manner of posting the results. Mr Odinga dismissed the results as "fictitious, fake and a sham". Innuendo on social media about the results quickly spread. By morning yesterday, there was fear of what could happen were the Opposition to stick to their position.
A second press conference yesterday morning by Mr Odinga did little to reassure those who were getting jittery, and neither did the other press conference addressed by Acting Cabinet Secretary for Internal Security Fred Matiangi act to calm things. Reports of a police shooting in Mathare, Nairobi did not help things either.
In any contest, there must be a winner and a loser. Those aggrieved by the results have recourse in Court. The dispute from the 2013 election results was settled by the Supreme Court which upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s election.
The final results of the 2017 General Election is not yet out, hence the compelling need to maintain peace and order as we await the final outcome from IEBC.
Whatever issues the aggrieved parties feel strongly about can be solved through laid down channels without recourse to violence.
NASA leaders should take up the challenge and call their impatient followers to order. Having inculcated in their minds that nothing short of a straight win is acceptable, it is incumbent upon them to calm the nerves of their supporters. A breakdown of law and order is not in the best interest of the country.
We cannot afford to travel the perilous route the country travelled in 2007 when a a dispute over presidential elections results sparked off violence that lead to the deaths of 1,300 people.
Over 600,000 were displaced while property worth millions was destroyed. To date, some victims of that violence are still seeking compensation from the government.The maintenance of law and order is not negotiable. Kenyans must remain calm and allow IEBC to finalise the electoral process.
We cannot afford to destroy our country.