The ruling Jubilee Party has employed a broad spectrum of strategies to legitimise President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the elections scheduled for October 26 after his main challenger Raila Odinga withdrew from the race citing an uneven playing field.
Ranging from ensuring Mr Odinga’s name remains on the ballot paper, intense campaigns and inducing defections of National Super Alliance loyalists to rallying the international community, the ruling party has engaged a higher gear 10 days to the election to ensure normalcy returns to the country as soon as the elections are dispensed with.
The opposition is, however, digging in as it also puts to play its set of strategies, including protests.
At the global stage, both camps are out to control the narrative on the prevailing political situation in the country. On the day Mr Odinga was giving a talk on democracy at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London) on Friday, Jubilee supporters demonstrated outside the building, accusing the former prime minister for not being the true democrat he projects himself to be.
The group would later be countered by a rival one comprising Mr Odinga’s supporters in a classic case of exporting bad manners to a foreign land.
Hot on the heels of a meeting Mr Odinga had with the UK minister for Africa Rory Stewart at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma paid the British official a courtesy call in what sources at the ministry in Nairobi say was to “undo any biased information Odinga may have fed the UK minister”.
“He shares our concerns over the unfolding political situation in Kenya and is keen on promoting stability and progress in our nation as well as maintaining the harmonious relationship that our two countries enjoy,” Mr Odinga said after the meeting.
The ministry also issued a statement saying: “The Principal Secretary pointed out that Kenya’s unique circumstances, where an election was nullified as a result of process challenges without reference to result, make it necessary for amendments to be undertaken as a matter of priority. This is because it became evident during the presidential election petition that there was lack of clarity in the law relating to the verification of results and transmission of presidential results which was a critical factor in nullifying the election.”
Wiper party leader and Mr Odinga’s running mate in the last elections Kalonzo Musyoka is also in the United States.
On Saturday on the campaign trail, President Kenyatta told the international community not to get involved in Kenya’s affairs. And on Thursday, a group of Jubilee MPs had a similar message.
In a letter to representatives of the European Union, Britain, the United Nations, the United States of America, the African Union and African countries, the 12 MPs told envoys there was no political crisis.
At the same time, a Jubilee-leaning lobby, The International Policy Group (IPG), has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin investigations against Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka on the ongoing protests which have seen police clash with opposition supporters, leading to a number of deaths occasioned by police gunshots.
IPG wants the court, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, to investigate “crimes” Mr Odinga is alleged to have committed during his campaigns.
The petition, which appears to be part of a well-orchestrated scheme aimed at isolating the opposition chief, was signed by the organisation’s chairman, Dr Kenneth Orengo, and its secretary, Martin Nkari.
On Friday, IPG with four other civil society organisations, placed full-page advertisements in local newspapers supporting the contentious amendments to the election laws rejected by the opposition.
By scheming to ensure Mr Odinga’s name remains on the ballot, Jubilee knows that even if he objects to it and asks his supporters to skip the polls, some will still vote for him, in the end offering credibility to Mr Kenyatta’s victory. The inclusion of five fringe candidates will also play a part in the credibility game.
Nasa seems to be aware of this and is expected in court tomorrow with prayers to the judges to compel the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to remove Mr Odinga’s name from the ballot papers.
The coalition’s head of campaigns and ANC party leader Musalia Mudavadi accused Jubilee and IEBC of engaging in an unconstitutional process.
“They are keen to legitimise themselves when the country is not ready to move along with them. It is a cosmetic process since it is not tenable to conduct free and fair elections by October 26 given the prevailing circumstances, even some senior staffers in the commission have said as much,” he said on Saturday.
With the elections now confirmed, Jubilee is grappling with the situation of Mr Odinga’s supporters staying away from polling stations, leaving Mr Kenyatta to participate in an election whose legitimacy stands to be questioned.
Jubilee vice-chairman David Murathe said a high percentage win was not a bother to Jubilee.
“We are targeting 11 million votes and if we get eight million or more, we will have achieved our aim. Some people said in 2013 we won because of ICC, this time there are no cases but we will win. Jubilee is consolidating and cannibalising Nasa and, on its part, Nasa is just haemorrhaging,” he said.
He added: “In war, there are nuclear bombs, atomic bombs, and cluster bombs; what the President is doing by visiting all these counties can be classified as dropping of cluster bombs.”
Equally, the President’s men have urged to continue with his campaigns like nothing ever happened. On Friday, he announced he was embarking on a campaign blitz covering 17 counties. The thinking is to seek to relegate Mr Odinga’s pulling out as much as possible, in the process reassuring supporters that the move by the opposition leader was inconsequential.
In a counter-strategy, Nasa has also lined up rallies to explain its position to supporters and countrywide protests aimed at stopping the October 26 election. In the rallies, they will also be explaining to their supporters why they decided to give the election a wide berth. The first is expected on Sunday in Mombasa.
According to his allies, Mr Kenyatta’s push to woo defectors, netting high-profile opposition figures like former Wiper Secretary-General Hassan Omar and former Kajiado Governor David Nkedianye, is part of the larger plot to spread his tentacles in the opposition areas and convince the country that contrary to the perception that he was a leader of central Kenya and the Rift Valley, he indeed has a national presence.
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya yesterday had to take on the Deputy President William Ruto for claiming he had jumped ship from ODM to Jubilee.
“I expect an immediate correction and apology from the Deputy President,” the governor said.
In the face of an emboldened opposition which is showing no signs of fatigue with its demonstrations, the government has intensified its crackdown hoping to discourage supporters from coming out to the streets. So far, this does not appear to be working.
Jubilee’s hope is that with time, the mass action will be confined to Mr Odinga’s traditional bases of Luo Nyanza.
And after getting condemnation for its move to amend electoral laws in an electioneering period, we have learnt from an impeccable source that Mr Kenyatta will not be in a hurry to sign the Bill into law.
Strategically, he is said to be keeping critics guessing as to whether he could change his mind and send it back to Parliament.
One card, our source said, will be to sign it a few days to October 26 to deny Nasa the latitude to successfully challenge it in court and get appropriate orders in good time.
On the Election Day Jubilee will employ “guard a polling station” scheme to ensure high turnout. It entails, among other things, recruiting agents who are voters in the same stations they will be manning.
Nasa, on the other hand, is plotting to stop the election in its strongholds to advance a case that the elections were not conducted in the 290 constituencies as stipulated in the Constitution.
DP’s ally Kipchumba Murkomen says whoever tries to block the polls will be charged with committing an electoral offence. Going forward, the opposition is also planning to intensify its campaigns on the emotive secession talk.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati is also expecting a Supreme Court guidance on Tuesday concerning his role as the national returning officer. He is seeking powers to correct errors on result forms coming from constituencies.
Currently, he is not allowed to make any alterations on the forms.
Pokot South MP moves to court with a view to safeguarding Uhuru’s possible victory.