Challenging times ahead as Raila quits

Tuesday October 10 2017

By EDITORIAL
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The country has been thrown into confusion with the withdrawal of Nasa’s Raila Odinga and running mate Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka from the fresh presidential election that was scheduled for October 26.

Opinions are sharply divided on the implication of the decision, but one thing is for sure, the country is entering uncharted waters and walking the path to the unknown.

This development will test the legal and political systems to the limit and this, indeed, calls for calmness and sobriety among all the key players and institutions, including the IEBC.

CAMPAIGNS
All along, there were indications that all was not was well.

Since the annulment of the August 8 presidential election by the Supreme Court and the order for a repeat of that poll, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) seemed to have rather uncharacteristically lost interest in the campaign.

Hardly did Mr Odinga and his team conduct any campaigns, instead resorting to merely addressing press conferences in Nairobi.

They kept complaining and issuing demands for electoral reforms.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Contrastingly, the Jubilee Party has been on a roll, campaigning in various regions for the repeat of the contest.

The big question now is what next for Kenya?

Will Mr Uhuru Kenyatta be declared the President and sworn in?

And what would that mean for his legitimacy, given the fact the Supreme Court invalidated his election, declaring it irregular and unconstitutional?

Would such a president have the moral authority to lead?

PROTESTS
Of critical concern is the resolve by the Nasa leadership to continue mass protests to push for electoral reforms.

They have called their supporters out for the protests starting Wednesday and by the look of things, they are gearing up for some long drawn-out street battles.

Inasmuch as the demonstrations are a constitutional right, they are fraught with perils.

They have been the cause for violence and major disruptions.

And the grim reference is the 2007-8 violence that led to deaths, injuries and displacement of thousands of people.

ECONOMY
It comes at a time when the country is facing serious economic challenges.

Businesses are at a standstill. Productivity is at a bare minimum.

And being the regional economic giant and the hub for international organisations, the paralysis has some far-reaching ramifications.

However, the onus is on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to give direction on the way forward.

It must be judicious and make the right decision that guarantees the stability and unity of the nation.

BAD SYSTEM

Even so, it must be borne in mind that the problem is political rather than legal.

We have serious national political questions that have not been addressed even with the implementation of the progressive Constitution enacted in 2010.

The precise reason our politics is so toxic and wretchedly competitive is that it is exclusionary.

It is a game of winner-take-all. In that context, the players seek to do everything to ascend to power; and losing is equal to rustication to the wild.

DEMOCRACY

It was India’s academic and political thinker Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who authored a book aptly titled The Burden of Democracy.

Kenya now finds itself at that moment when it has to carry that heavy burden.

It is painful, slow, torturous and windy.

But it is precisely how we navigate the current crisis that will determine our survival as a modern democracy.

For whatever it takes, the country must hold together.

We must strive to remain peaceful and the politicians must avoid statements and activities that incite the population to violence.