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Poll case: High stakes, but Kenyans will have won

The August 8 General Election was one of the most heated contests, marked by a high voter turnout and participation.

The political heat has calmed down and Kenyans are recovering from the election fever.

Although the presidential results have been contested at the Supreme Court, citizens are back to normal life and workplaces and business are functional.

This is a good sign that Kenyans have learnt from the past and would not want to be involved in reigniting the flames of political violence as was seen in 2007/2008.

Peace and orderly pursuit for justice are their options — even when almost seven million of them voted for National Super Alliance presidential candidate (Nasa) Raila Odinga who is contesting the outcome of the election.

Moving to court is not only within the law but is also commendable as a way of seeking justice while ensuring that Kenyans go about their normal lives as political temperatures cool down across the country.

POLITICAL ASHES

However, the political ashes are now smouldering at the Supreme Court.

In the petition, Nasa, the Jubilee Government and its August 8 election candidate President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will have to argue out their case.

But it remains the jurisdiction of the judges to assess all sides and give their decision.

There is a lot at stake in this petition for both Jubilee and Nasa. It is President Kenyatta’s second and final term, if his win is upheld — an opportunity that he will not wish to let slip away. On the part of Nasa, the decision means a lot to Mr Odinga.

The 2017 General Election was his most promising attempt as informed by political analysts and opinion polls; and his political fortunes are now tied to the outcome of the petition.

Given the high number of followers that each of the two political leaders have, and their influence, the petition is being followed closely by a majority of Kenyans.

NEW GOVERNMENT

Some Kenyans feel that their vote counted and they managed to elect a new government. But there are also those that feel their vote did not count and are keenly watching the proceedings at the Supreme Court.

Their concern is not just the decision, but also the processes that will be employed by the judicial team.

The manner in which the processes will be executed will inform judicial reforms in Kenya.

The country has heavily invested in judicial reforms and, therefore, the Supreme Court process has to depict that indeed Kenya’s Judiciary can be relied upon by the people.

The decision of the judges aside, the way the Supreme Court handles the issues brought before it will go a long way to inform future processes.

For instance, it will be fair to say that it is partly because of the 2013 Supreme Court process that this General Election was generally efficient on certain aspects like the Biometric Voter Registration kits and the Electronic Voter Identification Devices. The judicial team will give their verdict.

IMPORTANT

But at the end of the day it is Kenyans who will have won. And this is irrespective of the decision of the judges.

Nevertheless, the decision of the judges remains very important to Kenyans. It will shape the political landscape in the next five years and beyond.

If it goes well in favour of Jubilee, the status quo will remain. If it goes well in favour of Nasa, the country will be thrown into a fresh round of presidential election. Should it come to this, it will provide an opportunity for both Nasa and Jubilee to return to the voters to either re-elect President Kenyatta or allow Mr Odinga to come to power.  

So, the Supreme Court process carries with it a lot of public interest as it speaks directly to the Kenyan citizens. It also provides an avenue for mwananchi to audit the IEBC processes, expose any loopholes and see how to seal them for the future.

As the Supreme Court proceedings unfold, Kenyans will watch keenly to see the direction that the smoke takes as political ashes smoulder before the judges.

 The writer is the author of Conversations about the Youth in Kenya [email protected] 

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