One of the lawyers who helped draw up the Constitution of Kenya in 2010, popularly referred to as the New Constitution, has returned to seek employment from Kenyans as its ‘custodian.’
Dr Ekuru Aukot, who was the Secretary of the Committee of Experts (CoE), revealed on Tuesday night that he will be seeking the Presidency in next year’s General Election and tame the “mutilation” of the country’s supreme law.
In an interview with Citizen TV, Dr Aukot said he feels challenged to seek presidency because the country is getting torn apart with tribalism and what he described as run-away corruption.
“I worked so hard on this Constitution…but it is no longer tenable for me…to keep watching it being mutilated. I am going to offer myself as a presidential candidate for Thirdway Alliance. We are coming as a tribe less movement,” he told the Big Question news programme.
“We are not going to accept this bad manners of negative ethnicity anymore. We are challenging that status quo because we already know what tribalism is doing to this country. It has divided us right up in the middle,” said Dr Aukot.
Though he was guarded about who exactly belongs to the Thirdway Alliance, Dr Aukot called it a “movement”, seeking those “tired of the narrative” of politics that is based on negative ethnicity and corruption, such as the youth, women groups and even political parties.
“The political mobilisation in Kenya has been around negative ethnicity, that I am one of your own. My candidacy will actually depolarise that because,” he said.
He charged that the current leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta has “torn the country right up in the middle” by appointing government officials without considering the country’s ethnic diversity.
“We cannot sit back and say Kenyans have been preconditioned, even though we know it is bad,” he argued.
The Thirdway Alliance has mainly been vocal on social media where Dr Aukot with 53,000 followers has been lampooning the government over corruption, insecurity among his pastoralist community of Turkana and the division of national resources among counties.
But critics charge that the unstructured movement lacks the taste of reality on the ground, and that Dr Aukot could suffer the same fate as presidential contenders Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth in 2013.
The two were popular on social media but performed poorly in an election where the tyranny of (tribal) numbers ruled the day.
On Tuesday, Dr Aukot argued that he has already started removing the debate online and meeting with the people but insisted the performance of Ms Karua and Mr Kenneth did not indicate people did not like their policies.
“It is not my mistake to have been born a Turkana. Well, if my candidacy will excite the Turkana to support me, fine but I don’t want them to follow me blindly just because it is Ekuru Aukot, one of their sons. I want them to look at our policies and the issues we are putting forth,” he said.
Dr Aukot, 44, and a PhD holder from the University of Warwick in the UK is one of the sought-after brains on the African continent in matters relating to law and development.
He has served in the Committee of Experts in Kenya and sat on Panel that selected the current crop of commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
He has offered consultancy services in Liberia, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia and Egypt.
But back home, his decision to stand for elections also seeks to challenge an age-old hegemony where largest tribes often gang up to front a candidate.
In the last elections, two coalitions Jubilee Alliance and the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) collected 94 per cent of the votes. The coalitions were supported by the country’s four major ethnic groups.
His Turkana people were less than one million (988, 592) by the last count in the 2009 Census.
Even then, the Ministry of Planning then under Wycliffe Oparanya (now Governor of Kakamega County) rejected the count for being too extrapolated. Justice Mohammed Warsame would later order that the results be official.