Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Thursday, 20 Apr 2017 11:30 EAT
Anyone following the political developments in Kenya must be worried, very worried, about the state of lawlessness as the country approaches a consequential general election less than four months away.
Attempted assassinations, kidnappings, physical fights, hate speech, and intolerance of opposing views, have taken center stage, a precursor of what many, inside and outside the country, fear could be the beginning of the country's decline into widespread violence come election time.
The use of guns, especially, is most terrifying. A few days ago, an aspirant was shot on the ear; vehicles have been sprayed with bullets; and in a few cases, people have drawn pistols in public areas to scare off opponents. Several victims are lying in hospitals battered by political hooligans.
This week the crack General Service Unit was deployed to hot-spots to stop a further deterioration of the situation.
Most of the internecine activities have taken place around the ODM party nominations. In the next few days, the ruling party, Jubilee, will begin its own primaries with thousands of aspirants scrambling for a chance to represent the party in various positions.Things do not look good there either.
Anxiety among opposition supporters has been heightened by the coalition's inability to agree on its flag-bearer. Until this week, there were four people vying for the broader NASA coalition presidential ticket: Raila Odinga of ODM; Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Party; Musalia Mudavadi of ANC; and Moses Wetangula of Ford-Kenya.
Today, the bumptious Isaac Rutto of the Chama Cha Mashinani (CCM) Party officially joined the group at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, further complicating the selection process.
A special committee formed a few weeks ago by NASA to identify a candidate made recommendations, but those recommendations were rubbished by some of the principals, necessitating a series of meetings among the candidates themselves in secluded resorts in Mombasa. The coalition today promised that, in one week's time, it will announce its flag-bearer, and thus bring to an end what seems like a crisis of leadership in the opposition.
At least one American non-government organization specializing in poll monitoring has warned Kenya about the dangers that lie ahead unless radical steps are taken to calm the swirling tension.
Peace-loving Kenyans are also holding their breath and praying for a smooth exercise, away from what happened in 2007/2008 when more than a thousand people were killed in election related violence. Politicians must realize August 8 is not the end of the world. Opportunities still exist in future. It is obvious, however, that more than any other election in recent history, what we are seeing this year is a high decibel, high-stakes exercise.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is under siege and is pushing all buttons to halt the advancement of the opposition. His unrelenting and frequent forays in to ODM strongholds like the Coast and Nyanza underscore his determination to break a long-standing jinx which has made it difficult for incumbents to attract votes from certain parts of the country.
If Uhuru loses, he will be the first one-term president in Kenya's history, hence the unbridled determination. As for the opposition, a loss will extinguish all hopes of dismantling the tribal dynasties that have been part of governance since independence.
The writer is a veteran journalist, author and former Member of Parliament for Bahari. All his books are available in bookshops in Nairobi and on Amazon.com