President Uhuru Kenyatta's deafening silence as election petition starts at the Supreme Court

President Uhuru Kenyatta interacts with voters at Mutomo Primary School polling station in Gatundu South Constituency, Kiambu County shortly after casting his vote. [Standard]

It took outgoing President Mwai Kibaki only five days after the ballots had been cast in the 2013 elections to congratulate the winner - his would-be successor - Uhuru Kenyatta.

The statement came out on Saturday, March 9, after the March 4, 2013 elections. "To Honourable Uhuru Kenyatta who has been declared President-Elect by the IEBC, I express my sincerest congratulations. I wish him best wishes, success and God's blessings in the noble duty of governing our great country," Kibaki said.

Nearly a decade later, the shoe is on the other foot and Kenyans are still waiting for word from President Kenyatta three weeks after voting for his successor.

The president's thoughts on the outcome of the August 9 presidential election have been for all to guess. Raila Odinga, the candidate the outgoing president had backed to succeed him, is challenging the election result at the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the Assumption of Office of the President Committee, chaired by Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, has put its operations on hold, pending the court decision, which is expected next week.

President Kenyatta has only had two public appearances since the election.

He met and held talks with religious leaders at State House in Nairobi where he assured them that the transition process would be smooth. Uhuru also met US Senator Chris Coons when he visited Kenya two weeks ago.

Sources aware of the president's diary said he has been working from his private residence in Nairobi.

Other sources within President Kenyatta's camp said they were convinced that the election was not free and fair and was optimistic that the court would see the truth and overturn the election.

"That is why Uhuru will not say anything until the process reaches its conclusion," the source said.

But as the seven-judge bench looks into the petition filed by Azimio la Umoja, a prospect opens for the president.

Kenyatta remains in office for some time longer in the event the judges call another election.

This thought was captured by lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a Kenya Kwanza Alliance supporter, who posited that Uhuru could be in office until 2025.

Abdullahi said if the Supreme Court orders a rerun in the 2022 presidential petition, that election will be held in 2025.

Should the court nullify the election of William Ruto, the law gives the electoral commission two months to plan and conduct a new presidential election.

But Abdullahi said the demand for removal of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati and reconstitution of the commission could extend the timeline. The law demands that he only leaves once the new one assumes office.

Political analysts say Kenyatta's silence is strategic and the best move for the country as the court adjudicates the matter.

Dennis Anyoka said Uhuru speaking on the election to either congratulate the winner or give an opinion could be taken as interference with the ongoing process.

"If you are an incumbent and you have to hand over power, then, whatever political position you could have had, you will not want to expose yourself at the last stage. It is a calculated move," said Anyoka.

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