By Nze Nwabueze Akabogu (JP)
The most recent political development in Kenya is obviously worrisome and clearly portends grave danger to the East African nation even as the present extremely precarious situation might degenerate into national catastrophe unless the Kenyan political leaders across the divide take urgent and decisive action to avert the looming calamity or time bomb waiting to explode. The African Union (AU) must equally move in quickly to mediate in the crisis among the political gladiators in the Kenyan nation commonly referred to as the economic power house of the East Africa Community.
The ugly political event that engulfed Kenya in the recent past which culminated in the terrible ethnic conflagration that claimed the lives of thousands of Kenyan citizens and which are still fresh in the minds of lovers of peace and democracy across the globe must not be allowed to repeat itself. That national calamity that took place in Kenya in 2007 had prompted the intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague which consequently issued an international warrant of arrest against the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto for crimes against humanity consequent upon the mass killings that followed the Presidential election of 2007. Although both President Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto were later put on trial at the Hague, nevertheless they were eventually acquitted by the Court for want of sufficient evidence and diligent prosecution.
It is therefore imperative for all political leaders across the political divide in Kenya to quickly embrace peace in the overall interest of their people who had been on the receiving end and bearing the brunt of the misguided actions of their political leaders. It is a common saying that when two elephants fight it is the grass that ultimately suffers. It is no gainsaying the fact that the genesis of the current political upheaval and uncertainty in Kenya is traceable to the last presidential election in August 2017 when the result of that election was outrightly rejected by the highly revered opposition leader Raila Odinga who claimed that the election was massively rigged in favour of his rival PRESIDENT Kenyatta and called for its total cancellation.
The incumbent President Kenyatta had earlier been declared the clear winner in the election by the Kenya Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (KIBC). However Raila Odinga later challenged the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner in the Kenya Supreme Court which subsequently cancelled the entire Presidential election and ordered for a fresh polls within a period sixty days. Regrettably however and in utter astonishment of the Kenyan people as well as lovers of democracy, due process, and rule of law across the globe, the opposition leader Raila Odinga had urged his supporters to boycott the re-run election and also insisted that members of the electoral commission must be disbanded before he could take part in any fresh polls. Political watchers of Kenya’s situation were however appalled at Odinga’s intransigence and his “dog in the manger” attitude. Analysts are of the opinion that Odinga’s political posturing simply amounted to holding the Kenyan nation to ransom with his ridiculous and unrealistic demands even as he had called for mass resistance to President Kenyatta’s Government. In the meantime however, the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn-in for a second term of five years by the country’s Chief Justice.
The Current highly charged and unpredictable political atmosphere in Kenya was clearly precipitated by the recent self-swearing in ceremony of Raila Odinga as the “Peoples President” before a mammoth crowd of his supporters mainly from his ethnic home base in Nairobi Suburbs, the nation’s capital. This rather misguided action on the part of Odinga is obviously a recipe for chaos and anarchy in Kenya that is yet to recover from a similar political turmoil about a decade ago. The self swearing in of Odinga in a democratic setting where there is already a sitting president who was duly elected by the people in a democratic process and affirmed by the nation’s apex court could rightly be regarded as the height of irresponsibility and absurdity in a civilized society that cherishes the principles of due process and rule of law. Raila Odinga must not the allowed to drag the people of Kenya back to the dark era of the sordid past in his morbid quest or vaulting ambition for absolute power.
The Kenyan constitution clearly stipulated the laid down procedures governing the electoral process for election into the office of the president of Kenya and Raila Odinga had already exhausted all the legal processes available to him within the constitution and as such any other methods he chose to adopt in his pursuit for remedy outside the constitutional provisions clearly amounted to gross violation of the Kenyan constitution. In other climes Odinga’s ill motivated self swearing in ceremony as the “President of Kenya” could be treated as high treason against the state with the attendant grave consequences. However the incredible restraint, wisdom and maturity displayed by the people of Kenya and their leaders so far in the face of extreme provocation and unwarranted assault on their constitution is highly commendable. This act of gross lawlessness and impunity on the part of Raila Odinga as well as his recalcitrant and arrogant posture must be equally condemned in its entirety by the international community that cherishes the rule of law and due process in any democratic setting.
In conclusion, the African Union (AU) must quickly move in to broker enduring peace in Kenya between President Kenyatta and his fellow compatriot Raila Odinga in the overall interest of the Kenyan people. Africa cannot afford to witness another civil strife in Kenya even as the continent is already engulfed in perennial civil conflicts and instability in many countries such as South Sudan, D.R, Congo, Somalia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia etc. Most of these man made conflicts were simply engineered by selfish interest of the so called political leaders who often masquerade as the “People’s messiah” only to acquire political power purely for their personal ego and self aggrandizement to the detriment of the down trodden in their countries. These avoidable conflicts had greatly impeded the continent’s socio-economic development and technological advancement hence Africa continues to be referred to as grossly underdeveloped continent that is incapable of contributing her quota in global affairs. Africa must therefore rise up to the occasion and say never again to these self serving and unpatriotic so- called leaders if the continent must regain her pride of place and play her expected role in international political arena.
*Nze Akabogu (JP), wrote from Enugwu-Ukwu, Anambra State.