Eyewitness: Decisions…in Kenyan leadership

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Unlike us, even though Jomo Kenyatta was a militant Africanist, he and his successors in the Kenyan political elite never fiddled around with the trappings of the Judiciary – powdered wigs and ceremonial gowns, etc!! But as authoritarians who practised first, de facto and then de jure one-party rule, they inevitably had to curb the freedom of the Judiciary in fulfilling its mandate to ensure the rule of law was observed!! Can’t be too much “rule of law” when the Government bans all Opposition parties and rules from 1963 to 1992 on its lonesome!! In 1991, the Attorney General opined that “a characteristic of the rule of law is that no man, save for the President, is above the law.”!! ‘And in 1992, they just ALLOWED multiparty elections!!

But since then, the Judiciary slowly asserted its independence and has done yeoman (and yeowoman, since the present Chief Justice is female!) service to democratic governance. If you’ve been following your Eyewitness’s meanderings, after ethnic riots followed disputed elections in 2007 and claimed 1300 lives, the Constitution was rewritten. A slew of changes to accommodate the ethnic voting patterns in a nation with 54 ethnic groups were made – including strengthening the Judiciary.

Well, Raila Odinga made his 5th attempt to capture the presidency. And when the results showed his opponent, William Ruto won by a whisker – 7,176,141 votes (50.49%) of the total votes cast to Odinga’s 6,942,930 (48.85%), he appealed to the Courts. The law stipulated that an elections petition must be decided in 15 days and the decision was handed down yesterday!! Guyana??

The seven-member court found no discrepancies in the vote tallies and no credible evidence that the electoral commission’s computer systems and transmission network had failed or been breached, CJ Martha Koome said in an abridged ruling handed down in Nairobi. Allegations that some citizens had been prevented from casting their votes or that ballot boxes were tampered with were unproven, she said.

“It is our finding that the declared president-elect attends 50% plus one of the votes cast” in accordance with the Constitution, said Koome. “This is a unanimous decision of the court.” Mr Ruto also achieved the minimum 25 per cent of votes in 39 counties which the new Constitution demanded to demonstrate wide ethnic support since ethnic groups are generally found in separate strongholds. Ruto will now be sworn in on Sept 13. Odinga’s running mate has said she respects the judgement but disagrees with it. Expecting some ethnic violence if such rhetoric escalates, roads have been cordoned off and gatherings forbidden in “hotspots”.

Your Eyewitness hopes that the process is accepted so countries like Guyana can witness that with even greater challenges, democracy prevails.

…in Guyanese leadership

Sadly, it seems that some Opposition Leaders in Guyana have caught the Odinga syndrome – and reflexively cry “foul!!” after every election. Following their 28-year one-party rule, Hoyte did so in 1997 and even after his demanded “Caricom Forensic Audit” showed he lost, he still muttered, “But we won!!” Since we had some 400-plus dead following that recalcitrance, we hoped that all the innovations introduced into the Constitution after 2000 would cure the PNC’s obduracy. It was not to be!! Here, while they now go to the courts like Odinga, they still inflict what their leader once called “condign” beatings on their Opponents.

The ironic thing is that after wandering in the desert as Political Opposition for 23 years, the PNC did in fact win the 2015 elections – and took Government!! It was as close as the present win by Ruto in Kenya, but hey!! A win’s a win, no?? And they didn’t protest THAT election!!!Guess the only acceptable elections to the PNC is when THEY win!!

…in British Leadership

As your Eyewitness predicted, Britain’s Liz Truss won the Conservative Party internal leadership polls – receiving 81,326 votes (57.4%) to Rishi Sunak’s 60,399 (42.6%). She’s slated to replace Boris Johnson as PM of Britain.Is being a bridesmaid “progress”??