​Raila Odinga: Why we pulled out of Kenya’s presidential election

The following is an extract from a statement released by Raila Odinga’s National Super Alliance on Tuesday, 10 October.

On August 8 Kenyans voted in the 6th election since the return to multiparty politics in 1992—the political reform we call the Second Liberation. As is customary voting went smoothly. But when it came to tallying and transmission of results, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It became the first presidential election in Africa to be annulled by the Court, and only the fourth in the world.

In the aftermath, the annulment has plunged the country into uncharted waters. That was to be expected. What we would not have expected is that the country’s leadership would be divided by a fundamental tenet of democracy, namely free and fair elections.

We at NASA [the National Super Alliance] have insisted that the fresh election ordered be held to the standard ordered by the Supreme Court, that is, in strict conformity with the Constitution and written law. We have provided a checklist of what we deem to be the “irreducible minimum” changes required to ensure compliance.

The validity of the checklist of the requirements for free and fair elections proposed by NASA has not been disputed by anyone, not by the IEBC, not by Jubilee or other actors and observers. The EU Observer Mission recommendations are in conformity with our ‘irreducible minimum.”

Instead, the case for proceeding with the fresh election on 26 October without these changes is being made on the grounds of time constraints. Jubilee and the other proponents of an election without reforms are saying “bora uchaguzi” (any election will do). But we in NASA are calling for “uchaguzi bora” (a credible election).

In a constitutional democracy, we should not be debating about a free and fair election, or compliance with court orders, or accountability for breach of public trust. We should have been working together to ensure that we uphold these values as they are not only our national values but are also the foundations of a credible electoral system.

Instead the IEBC has stonewalled meaningful deliberations on the necessary reforms to ensure that the elections of 26th October are free and fair. It has wasted valuable time engaging in public relations exercises intended to create the illusion of motion without any movement.

We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel to ensure that the “illegalities and irregularities” that led to the invalidation of the 8th August, 2008 do not happen again. All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one.

On its part, the Jubilee administration’s proposed amendment to the election laws demonstrates that it has no intention of competition on a level playing field. The only election Jubilee administration is interested in is one that it must win, even unlawfully.

Both Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto have gloated that they have the numbers in parliament to amend even the Constitution. The Jubilee Vice-Chairman is on record stating that Kenya requires a benevolent dictator and proceeded to exhort Uhuru Kenyatta to exercise dictatorial powers. These utterances provide the motive for the blatant across the board rigging of the August 8 elections— it was to secure the majorities that Jubilee needs to overrun our Constitution. Kenyatta and Ruto are beneficiaries, believers and defenders of the old order. They intend to overthrow our new constitutional order and re-install the old order. The over 300 elections petitions filed, majority against Jubilee are evidence that this claimed majority is fraudulent.

We wish to reiterate what we have stated in the past that we will not allow autocracy back into Kenya. It is unfortunate that international actors who have supported Kenyans in their quest for democracy and good governance are now on the side of appeasing dictatorship in the mistaken belief that it will maintain stability.

We shall not allow anything to dampen our morale. We won the battle for multiparty democracy. We won the battle for a new Constitution. We are going to win the battle for a free and fair election.

After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election, considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large, we believe that all will be best served by NASA vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017.

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