Top two must show leadership ahead of polls

Saturday September 9 2017

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Nasa leader Raila Odinga during a past event. They face off in repeat presidential polls on October 17, 2017.  PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) and Nasa leader Raila Odinga during a past event. They face off in repeat presidential polls on October 17, 2017. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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You know the qualities of a man by the way he handles defeat or victory. Dignity in defeat and humility in victory are signs of great leadership.

The responses by both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga to the Supreme Court ruling of Friday reveal much about the character of the two men who the court ruled will go for a fresh election on October 17.

While one could understand the initial euphoria and outrage that greeted the ruling, sobriety should have taken over as the dust settled and the reality of the ruling sunk in.

However, each day has brought a new barrage of threats, insults, half-truths and ethnic slurs that do not augur well for a peaceful outcome in six weeks.

In fact, the country appears to be more polarised now than before last month’s General Election.


Campaigning for the other five electable seats available then deflected some of the heat and attention from the presidential ballot.

However, now it looks like a shoot-out between the last two men standing and it is going to be nasty and brutal.

It need not be, but it will take decisive leadership and other voices to guide us towards a ballot that is credible, professional and widely-approved.

Once more, we are in dangerous but unfamiliar territory, this time as a result of the repeat ballot.

The Supreme Court has done its job, regardless of how one feels about the ruling.

Clearly, however, there are major problems with the IEBC. Only the complete ruling will reveal whether it was incompetence, sabotage, corruption or human error that were to blame for the annulled election.


In any case, radical changes are required. IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati has chosen an election date that has been rejected by Nasa and the team he appointed to take charge of the ballot has in turn been rejected by Jubilee.

The IEBC has become the punching bag for both parties and it will be punch-drunk by October 17 unless other actors intervene.

The Catholic Bishops, as part of the multi-sector forum (MSF), have offered to mediate if invited by the IEBC.

However, the challenge is to get the same mandate from both Jubilee and Nasa.

The MSF, or any other body, must however take the lead and not wait for a last-minute invitation when things are already at crisis level.

Leadership is about initiative and taking a gamble for the sake of the common good.


Any forum that has the trust of the majority of Kenyans must not stand idly by and watch the election turn into a nasty, divisive and potentially violent time.

Put another way, the future of Kenya is bigger and more important than the ambitions of Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta. A shambolic IEBC must not be allowed to put the nation’s security at risk either.

Candidates must be free to campaign and they must also be consulted on how the ballot will be carried out.

But by October 17, voters must be guaranteed that their vote will count. As for the bishops, their best contribution might be to ensure that they have a trained monitor at each of the 40,883 polling stations.

Father Dolan is a Catholic priest based in Mombasa. [email protected] @GabrielDolan1