Kenya: Odinga Gets Polity Bubbling Again
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s political temperatures are boiling again despite the East African country holding its general elections in August 2022. The atmosphere is politically tense as a result of the opposition, Azimio-La Umoja One Kenya alliance coalition’s sustained onslaught on the government.
Raila Odinga-led team vowed not to recognize William Ruto as the President, saying they disagreed with the electoral commission, which declared Ruto the winner and the Supreme Court that validated the election. According to Odinga, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the court had been hijacked by cartels who handed over their victory to their opponent.
“We as Azimio reject the 2022 election results. We cannot and will not recognize the Kenya Kwanza regime and we consider the Kenya Kwanza government illegitimate. We don’t recognize William Ruto as President of Kenya and we equally don’t recognize any officials in the office with him,” said Odinga.
“We know what happened next at the Supreme Court. A compromised court failed to either declare the true victors, annul the elections or order a rerun because of the glaring violations of the law and the constitution by the IEBC. The Supreme Court itself was captured by the cartels that had also captured the IEBC,” added Odinga.
Odinga’s sentiments had been echoed by his running mate in the August 9 elections Martha Karua.
“The law recognizes him, I don’t. I have a choice; he is the president courtesy of the law. I don’t have to over praise that position,” Karua said in an interview with a local radio station in November last year.
She added, “I still stand here to stay that the results were doctored. You can’t stop my brain from working and force me to believe.”
“My belief is based on my conscience but giving the way to the law is obeying the law. The court spoke we gave way but we are still seeking for the truth. I will continue saying that we were hoodwinked.”
The commission announced that Ruto garnered 7,176,141 votes (50.49%), defeating Raila Odinga of Azimio, who received 6,942,930 votes (48.85%). However, in a bombshell revelation, an alleged anonymous whistleblower from the IEBC, which emerged recently, revealed proof of fraud and manipulation in the 2022 elections.
The whistleblower alleged that Raila Odinga garnered 8,170,353 votes representing 57.3 per cent, while William Ruto garnered 5,915,973, equivalent to 41.66 per cent. The unnamed whistleblower also said that, contrary to electoral laws, illegal entities were formed inside the IEBC data transmission centre’s “back office” to convert Form 34B from its original JPEG format to PDF.
Further, the whistleblower claimed that unauthorized individuals had been granted remote access or full access so they could modify JPEG Forms 34B using Microsoft Word or other applications, convert them back to PNG or PDF, and then post them to the commission portal.
The whistleblower also alleged that Form 34A of Book 2 was frequently used when forms 34A of Books 1 ran out at the polls. The original forms’ background watermarks were changed by converting them to PNG to sway the results in favour of one candidate over another.
The IEBC leadership, according to the whistleblower, was well aware of the fraud and manipulations going on but did nothing to stop it.
Odinga’s team is now demanding an audit of the 2022 elections by an independent institution and has called on Ruto to resign, saying he has neither the mandate of the people nor the ability to govern.
“We demand that the entire infrastructure and records of the 2022 elections at IEBC be made public and be audited by an impartial body. A forensic audit of the IEBC results and servers is non-negotiable,” stated Odinga.
To push Ruto out of office, Azimio resorted to political gatherings to mobilize Kenyans in opposition to William Ruto’s administration. The first rally was held in Nairobi’s Kibera on February 5, where they vowed not to stop until Ruto is out of office. Following the rally in Kibera, others were held in Mavoko, Kisii, Kisumu, and Githurai, and more rallies are anticipated in the future.
Odinga also, on February 22, during the opposition’s prayer rally at Jevanjee Gardens in Nairobi, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Ruto-led administration to lower prices of essential goods and taxes failure to which they will call for demonstrations across the nation to coerce the government to act.
According to the ODM party leader, the Ruto administration’s excessive taxes have caused basic commodity prices to skyrocket, subjecting millions of Kenyans to miseries. The opposition leader has likened Ruto’s administration to the biblical tax collector Zacchaeus, calling Kenyans to refuse paying taxes, terming them “punitive”.
He also blamed the high cost of living on President William Ruto’s decision to eliminate food and fuel subsidies instituted by his predecessor, Uhuru Kenyatta, to help the populace. Odinga called the decision to withdraw subsidies amid a drought and famine reckless and callous and urged that they be reinstated.
“The government must tell the people why food remains unavailable and unaffordable. The financial stipend must immediately be made available to poor families and youths who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Odinga.
The former Prime Minister is also calling for a halt to the continuing process of recruiting election commissioners, claiming that it is defective. Under the IEBC (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which has already received presidential assent, the Political Parties Liaison Committee and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have one slot in the selection panel.
The Inter-Religious Council will have two slots; the Parliamentary Service Commission boasts of a bigger share of four slots, while the Law Society of Kenya has a slot. Nevertheless, Odinga is pushing for a combined selection process and the decentralization of the IEBC.
“We demand that any attempts to reconstitute the IEBC single-handedly by Ruto cease forthwith so that Kenyans themselves can reconstitute the body after full and fair deliberations,” reiterated Odinga.
With the departure of IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati, CEO Marjan Hussein, and Commissioner Boya Molu due to the expiration of their tenure, the suspension of one commissioner, and the resignation of three others, the commission is now managed by the secretariat.
Opposition actions should not be taken lightly since they risk sparking a revolution and political violence. Things will unlikely improve anytime soon, with the government daring Odinga to carry out his threats to stage statewide protests.
“As president, I am going to make sure we avoid and banish impunity. There is nobody who is going to threaten Kenyans with impunity. Everybody must respect the law. We will make sure that everybody obeys the constitution. I want to tell our friends who are used to impunity who are used to forcing their way. That they will have no way. And nobody is going to threaten Kenyans,” said Ruto.
*Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine