February 25th 2018

Top Stories / National

We'll not relent in war on computer-generated leaders, says Raila

The vote, freely cast and counted is a powerful weapon for the weak against the powerful. History also tells us that the powerful never give up power and privilege without a fight.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 22 Aug 2017 15:53 EAT

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi arrives for Hassan Joho's inauguration as Mombasa Governor for the second term, today August 22, 2017.

We came to this great city of Mombasa to witness the swearing in of one of our most able leaders H.E Ali Hassan Joho to a second term in office as governor.

Join me once again in congratulating him on his re-election and wishing him success in his dreams for the county and our country and to deliver the promise of freedom, justice and plenty to our people.

And it is this subject of freedom and justice that I have called you to this press conference for.

The history of freedom is a history of struggle of the people to have the right to vote; from the poor in feudal Europe, to women across the world, to black people in the United States of America, to religious minorities and of course colonized people all over the world, freedom came with the right to vote.

The vote, freely cast and counted is a powerful weapon for the weak against the powerful. History also tells us that the powerful never give up power and privilege without a fight.

Seven years ago, we gave ourselves a new Constitution in which we declared that sovereignty belongs to the people.

Not to the Government, not to the President, not to Parliament, not to the Courts but the people. Our sovereignty is individually and collectively expressed by voting for leaders of our choice. 

The election we concluded two weeks ago was critical to restoring faith in the vote following two successive stolen elections.

It followed hard fought electoral reforms in which innocent Kenyans shed blood and lost lives.

The Jubilee administration fought tooth and nail to defeat those reforms. And when they could not stop the reforms, they plotted and executed the crudest electoral fraud since the mlolongo elections of 1988.

The only electoral fraud as crude as ours is the recent one in Azerbaijan where the results leaked before polling stations opened. With this election, our fledgling democracy has been subverted into a system now called electoral authoritarianism.

This is the system where dictators give a cloak of democratic respectability by organizing sham elections every four or five years. We are moving from bad to worse.  

This time, the computer was set at 54 per cent in favour of the incumbent presidential candidate and other select gubernatorial races across the country. Next time it will set at 70. Few people will bother to vote after that. Thereafter, it will be life presidents elected with 98 percent of the vote.

With that system, our young, efficient and ambitious leaders like Gov. Joho who have expressed a desire to go for the presidency will stand no chance. We cannot let it stand.

We now find ourselves sharply divided between those who want us to accept and move on, and those who are not prepared to live under authoritarianism of any kind.

Dictatorships once established do not reform themselves. We belong in the category of those who refuse to give up our basic rights and civil liberties, the right to speak, to assemble, to protest, to organize, to travel freely in and out of the country, to criticize government without fear or favor, to live as free men and women. 

As you are all be aware, we have reconsidered our position not to file a petition with the Supreme Court about the Presidential elections. It is important for Kenyans to understand why we resisted going to court, and why we have reconsidered it. 

Elections should end with the counting of votes. The Supreme Court is made up of seven judges. The discretion of seven individuals, however wise, can neither represent nor substitute the voice of 15 million people. 

Seven individuals can be intimidated, they can be compromised and they can make genuine mistakes. Kenyans are still trying to understand what exactly happened in the Supreme Court in 2013 when a decision about their votes was delivered in minutes and a paragraph.

Institutionalizing the determination of elections by courts is a deliberate cynical ploy to lend a cloak of legal respectability to fraud, subversion of democracy, and abuse of the court process. If we accept doing it this way, the courts will never allowed to be independent by those who want to rely on them to subvert the will of the people. 

We had hoped that other individuals and organizations would move to the courts and at least offer Kenyans a chance to know the truth about what happened to their vote. But soon, it became clear that the Jubilee administration was determined to still all voices and keep Kenyans in the dark about the systematic theft of elections. Jubilee immediately cracked down on brave and independent organizations it merely suspected to be planning to go to court. And so we decided to move to court ourselves to give Kenyans a chance to know the truth.

Whichever way the court rules, the petition will not of itself cure electoral impunity. It will not bring to justice those who plotted and executed the theft of our votes. It will not bring to justice those who murdered Chris Msando in order to steal votes. It will not hold to account those who sought to cow us into submission by unleashing terror in Mathare, Kibera and Kisumu. 

Stealing of elections in Kenya is a manifestation of the culture of political impunity.   

The perpetrators of 2017 electoral theft were emboldened by the fact that those who stole the 2013 elections have gone unpunished. We saw some of them at the Bomas of Kenya; experts in electoral fraud supervising their second electoral fraud. And they are exporting their expertise to neighbouring countries that have picked up lessons from Kenya since the fraud of 2007.

The only thing that has ever worked against political injustice is people’s power.  

Colonial subjugation, one-party dictatorship and the oppressive constitution were not outlawed by the courts. They were overcome by the people’s determined resistance.

And so today, here in Mombasa, we launch a national campaign for truth and electoral justice in Kenya. In this campaign we will affirm our commitment to freedom, the rule of law and democracy. 

We will defend our political rights and democratic space. Let the agents of foreign powers exhorting us to accept and move on so that they can continue to have lackeys to do their bidding know that we will not accept inferior governance. We will resist and disobey illegitimate computer generated leaders and we will not relent until the voices of the people as expressed through the ballot are heard and respected. We will exercise our sovereignty and establish the just political order that we have envisioned in the constitution that we have given ourselves.

Then and only then shall the ambitions of our young, restless and ambitious leaders like Ali Hassan Joho, Peter Munya, Isaac Rutto, Amason Kingi, among others, ever have a chance of rising to the top of our political leadership.


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