Kenyans are going to the polls today in the much anticipated general election amid fears that the election could lead to communal violence. The Presidential election, which analysts believe to be too close to call, is mainly between the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and his long-time rival, Raila Odinga.
The 55-year-old Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, of the Jubilee Party of Kenya’s presidential bearer, is seeking a second and final term in office. Although there are eight presidential candidates, opposition leader Raila Odinga is seen as the most serious challenger of President Kenyatta. The 72-year-old opponent, Mr. Odinga of the National Super Alliance has contested three times; he has never won any of the presidential elections. Six elections are billed for today: President, governor, senator, MP, female MP, county assembly member.
The rivalry between the incumbent President and Raila Odinga goes back to the 60’s when their fathers ( former Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Ajuma Oginga Odinga) were political opponents. Some have argued that Raila Odinga’s desire to become the President of Kenya is more or less to fulfill his family or father’s ambition. To him, it is a duty he owes to the father, some argue. The question is: will the rivalry of the Kenyatta and Odinga families lead to animosity or turn Kenya into violence, as witnessed in 2007 after the election? Worse still, the sudden death of Chris Msando, the head of information, communication and technology of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the main body overseeing the polls, three days before the general election has sent shocking waves around Kenya as well as reminded many of the ugly infamous 2007 election, which claimed the lives of more than 1,100 Kenyans. Chris Msando was allegedly tortured before murdered.
Definitely, like in many countries, the computerised voting system is key to the electoral success. If the computerised voting system fails in Kenya, and the votes will have to be counted manually, many might deem the election compromised as such not free and fair. This might lead to challenges of the election results and perhaps violence.
However, unlike in the 2007 election marred by inflammable speeches, the present election campaigns have been relatively calm. Candidates have rather pleaded for peace and love.
“After you cast your ballot, please go home. Go back to your neighbour. Regardless of where he or she comes from, their tribe, their colour or their religion. Shake their hand, share a meal and tell them ‘let us wait for the results,’ for Kenya will be here long after this general election.” President Kenyatta said on Monday.
Although President Kenyatta’s main opponent, Mr. Odinga, has complained about the 150,000 members of the security forces deployed to maintain peace and labelled the presence of the security forces an act of intimidation, Mr. Odinga has on his part, congratulated and described President Kenyatta as a “worthy opponent.” “May the stronger candidate win tomorrow.” Mr. Odinga added in a sign of sportsmanship.
The Presidential candidates have pleaded for peace; it is left for every peace-loving Kenyan to put the stability of Kenya first before their personal interests. Go out to choose the right candidates to take your beautiful country to the next level. Yes, you can!