Claiming election victory prematurely is dangerous

Azimio la Umoja agents react to rigging claims at the National Tallying centre, Bomas of Kenya Auditorium, Nairobi. August 13, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is expected to announce the results of the August 9 presidential election by latest tomorrow.

From the outset, and perhaps to preclude unrealistic demands for immediate results, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati reminded Kenyans that the Constitution gives the electoral agency seven days from the date of voting to announce the results. 

It is important for IEBC to go through forms 34A and 34B with a toothcomb to ensure figures tally to the satisfaction of both parties. Unfortunately, such thoroughness is beginning to cause the patience that Kenyans have shown so far to wear thin.

And yes, matters are made worse by claims some people in both Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza camps that their sides have won the presidential election. 

The downside is that supporters of either camps take such claims as the gospel truth which, while buoying their spirits, has the potential of sparking violence should the final result run counter to their expectations. Besides such leaders’ claims, Kenyans should also ignore any results that are being bandied about on social media. Only Mr Chebukati has the authority to declare presidential election results. Hence, those floating unverified outcomes must desist from misleading the public. 

They should desist from making allegations that could push the country to the edge of the precipice where it could easily tip over. That is what happened in December 2007 when the presidential election outcome was contested. We cannot afford a repeat of that, not ever. 

Already, one of the four presidential contestants has conceded defeat, long before the official announcement. That is in the true spirit of statesmanship. The remaining three should ask their lieutenants to hold their horses until IEBC declares one of them the winner for there can only be one winner. Losers should concede defeat and strategise to win the next election or head to court if unhappy with the results. Claiming victory prematurely is a recipe for chaos.