Millennium Post

Kenya in crisis

Though invalidating Kenya's presidential election because of alleged irregularities, its Supreme Court has generated a big hope for free and fair elections, the political parties are leaving no stone unturned to turn people's ray of hope dimmer day by day. The Kenyan court's verdict, in light of the new constitutional rules there, had held the disputed election null and void and ordered for a fresh election within 60 days. And, this verdict had virtually made the battle of ballots a bitter clash between the two major candidates – the scions of rival erstwhile political dynasties ingrained in different ethnic groups. A political crisis had surfaced after the opposition leader Raila Odinga dropped out of the race as a protest to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's failure in bringing out any changes, particularly after bungling the August election. He had already predicted that re-election on October 26 would be worse than the previous one, despite the court had found enough irregularities to nullify the election. Surprisingly, the election commission could not even implement technical changes in the prevailing complex electronic process of tallying and reporting votes.

On the other hand, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, who had been declared the winner in the Aug. 8 vote, appears provoking the opposition by pushing controversial legislation through Parliament, which would make it harder for the judiciary to nullify future elections. The opposition without Odinga is a cakewalk for Kenyatta, the opposition, but the opposition would certainly try to disrupt the polling. Now, the question arises that whether the commission could postpone the scheduled date of the election, despite an uncertainty that the Supreme Court would allow a delay. The legal intricacies apart, a series of protests and threats had raised fears of a sequel to the terrible bloodbath. While the opposition has called for daily protests in the coming days for grilling the commission, the government has banned demonstrations in the centres of three major cities on law and order grounds. It may be noted that a few weeks ago, the ambassadors from the United States and the European Union had accused both the sides of preventing a smooth re-election —Kenyatta for changing the electoral rules and Odinga for a growing list of political demands, inflammatory rhetoric, and boycott threats. And, when everybody knows that there were ways to make Kenya's complicated new voting system work better, the electoral commission could not promptly execute it. But, for that both the leaders would have to lead from the front – to provide a free and fair poll to Kenya.

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