My attention has been drawn to the editorial “Kenya Buckles Under Pressure” in the Nov. 24 edition. The editorial fails to capture the true essence of Kenya’s evolving constitutional democracy and adherence to the rule of law as enshrined in our constitution. I would like to clarify some of the issues raised, which were false and uncalled for.
On Sept. 1, the Supreme Court delivered its decision by a majority of four against two dissenting judges invalidating the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) declaration of Aug. 10 announcing Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect. The court further ordered that a fresh election be held within 60 days as provided by the constitution. The Supreme Court in its decision annulling the Aug. 8 presidential election on technicalities, did not find any IEBC official culpable of any criminal misconduct during the conduct of the elections. Despite the annulment of the presidential election, all other elected members accepted the results of the other elections, were sworn in and commenced their terms at the national and county levels of the government. This decision reflected institutional independence.
President Kenyatta respected the decision of the court and in accordance with the final order of a repeat election, immediately started campaigning. The opposition on the other hand resorted to violent fresh demands. Despite the court having found no criminal culpability against any official of the IEBC, the opposition demanded that in order for a fresh election to be conducted, the IEBC would have to be reconstituted and several high-ranking officials removed. This was the beginning of a long, dangerous path involving abuse of the law, disregard of the constitution and violent threat to the lives and property of the people of Kenya.
On Oct. 10, Raila Amolo Odinga announced his withdrawal from the presidential election slated for Oct. 26, on the basis of the Supreme Court’s judgment in the 2013 presidential petition, which by way of obiter dicta, the court determined that if a candidate withdrew from the elections, the entire process would revert to nominations. He then called for continuous demonstrations under the guise of “no reforms, no election.” The opposition party NASA’s actions were subsequently a serious threat to the country’s long-standing peace, cohesion and democratic progress. In line with its duty under the constitution and the law, the government continues to ensure that Kenya remains peaceful, secure and stable.
NASA’s call to boycott the elections was hinged on their claim that the IEBC is unsuitable to conduct the fresh elections. Yet, in January, seven months prior to the Aug. 8 elections, the IEBC was fully reconstituted to satisfy the demands of NASA. The government, in deference to the constitution, the rule of law and cognizant of the independence of constitutional institutions has continuously supported and dissuaded the interference with the mandate of the IEBC to conduct the fresh election.
In fact, Odinga and his party were in contempt of the order issued by the Supreme Court on Sept. 1.
The editorial also dwells on the issue of secession and the breakup of the country. Indeed, the issue has no locus standi as far as the constitution is concerned. The Japan Times fails to mention that while on his visit to the United States, Odinga categorically stated that Kenya is a unitary state as enshrined in its constitution
The constitutional democratic processes that we have witnessed in Kenya in the last three months have attested to Kenya’s political, social and economic maturity.
On Oct. 26, as The Japan Times has rightly mentioned, the second presidential elections were held with President Kenyatta winning with a majority of 98 percent. The decision was once again contested. On Nov. 20, the Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, upheld the re-election of Kenyatta. The swearing-in ceremony will be held on Tuesday, in the presence of heads of state and government, and Kenyans.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.