It is not in doubt that the democratic clock in strife-torn Kenya has been rolling back for sometimes. The sad fact is that a man once touted as a gentleman in politics, Mwai Kibaki is presiding over a shameful sham that has plunged East Africa's biggest economy into destruction, bloodshed and stalemate.
The kind of rigging that is said to have taken place to hand Kibaki a controversial second term is crude and unintelligent to say the least. It was daylight robbery that even the usually indulgent foreign election observers could not stomach. It is evident that Kibaki was bent on clinging to power by hook or crook when contrary to a decade-old deal he was party to, he single-handedly appointed 19 of the 21 members of the electoral commission instead of allowing other parties to participate in the exercise as has been the case. Most African leaders who want to cling to power normally would try everything and anything to make the electoral process an inconvenient exercise for a majority of the citizens as much as possible. Obviously such situations create a conducive environment for vote-rigging and other unsavoury practices. But in Kenya the situation was different. Besides the unilateral appointment of the commissioners, the process leading to the election was largely flawless until some people started to fiddle with the counting and the resultant figures. Contrary to established practice, the parliamentary votes were counted first instead of the presidential. Then the results of the presidential election from the president's strongholds took a suspiciously lengthy time in arriving at the headquarters of the electoral commission. This raised suspicions that somebody was cooking up the figures and the chairman of the commission wasted no time in saying so. Indeed when the results finally came, the figures did not
Had Kibaki and his colleagues been honest about the electoral process, we have no doubt the senseless and wanton loss of life could have been averted. Now he is belatedly trying to hoodwink the international community by offering an olive branch to the shortchanged opposition. We nevertheless, applaud efforts to mediate in the now volatile Kenyan situation.
It is ironic that while the bloody post-election violence unfolds in Kenya, Barack Obama, a son of the East African country is riding the popular wave in the race to the American presidency. Are Africans in Africa so cursed they are unable to conduct their electoral affairs in a free and fair way?
Remain calm, even when intimidated or provoked by those who are desperately determined to rig the elections and plunge the country into civil war.
- Mwai Kibaki (in reference to Arap Moi regime in 2002)