26. Raila’s Inner Dialogue

Saturday 23 March 2012

We have always known that there is a degenerate – even anarchist – streak in the Kenyan entrepreneurial character. But I must say I was floored by what my taxi driver, a chap with a sinful smile, called a ‘solution’ concerning the presidential election court challenge. He said, “instead of wasting another Kshs 6 billion on an election re-run, why can’t Uhuru simply give Raila, say Kshs 3 billion, and quietly tell him to withdraw the case.“ What a sad commentary on the state of our ethos!

I gently nudged my taxi driver away from the improbable short-cut of corruption and invited him on an alternative probable journey of imagination. He readily obliged and we had fun doing it. Here is what we came up with.

Assume it is the day before the Supreme Court rules on Raila Odinga’s challenge of IEBC’s declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect. All week, the testimony presented in court had been riveting. New details had emerged, driving up the ‘anxiety index.’

Now, with all the arguments and counter-arguments presented, where will the scales of justice tilt?

A fierce ideological speculation ensued among the legal literati. Will the Supreme Court, alive to matters of cost and national ‘inconvenience’, adopt a realist approach in their ruling? And in doing so, will it dismiss the case, arguing that the systemic failures and interference in the electoral process was not of such magnitude as to alter the outcome? Or, will the constitutional purists in its midst have their day, standing firm on the principle that our nascent democracy must be guarded at any cost?

How much latitude, if at all, do we allow ourselves at this stage in our democracy? And, what would the impact of such latitude be on future judgements? Is there a compromise? What is the guarantee that a re-run will be handled more competently, given the short time (only 60 days) allowed for preparation?

Meanwhile, another heated monologue was raging and had now reached boiling point. But this one was within the private confines of Honourable Raila Odinga’s mind. Here is a peak into that conversation.

“I know I am unlikely to win a runoff. Having seen the voting patterns, especially in Kalenjinland, I know the arithmetic does not favour me. I had expected to win at least forty per cent of the vote there but instead ended up with only five per cent. They could probably not have stolen thirty five per cent of my votes in all polling stations! Even if I improve this performance to fifteen per cent, I am unlikely to beat my competitor. Furthermore, there is a high likelihood that portions of the Kamba and Luhya votes will peel off from my coalition during the second round.
“It is true that voter registration and turnout is crucial in any electoral contest. Both were higher in my opponent’s strongholds. It is also clear now – with all the evidence presented – that there was significant electoral fraud. And yet, sadly, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again in the second round!”

As he carried on, Raila suddenly became wistful.

“I, Raila Amolo Odinga have known both defeat and victory in my political odyssey. I have known the pain and loneliness of detention. I have known what it means to have ‘defeat snatched from the jaws of victory’. And yet I have also known victory too; victory in the battle to defeat the one-party dictatorship. I have celebrated the defeat of Mwai Kibaki’s 2005 discriminative draft Constitution. And, yes, I have known victory in the successful passing and promulgation of a new constitution whose fruits we are beginning to enjoy in, among others, a reforming judiciary. I have battled three presidents and seen the fruits of my struggles – a new democratic dispensation. I have fought the good fight. The journey is far from complete. But like Martin Luther King Junior, I have seen the Promised Land and it is full of promise; promise of a new dawn where all Kenyan communities have equal opportunity.”

Raila paused for a moment. He got up and walked to the window. He stood still, looking out into the distance for several minutes. Then abruptly, he took out his phone and called his communications director. “Call a press conference immediately,” he ordered.

With the whole country listening, Raila made his brief announcement.

“Dear Kenyans, you have all followed the court proceedings. I have done my part to bring these matters out for all to see. You can make your own conclusions. The Court will render its judgement tomorrow. If it rules in my favour and orders a fresh election, I am announcing here and now that I will not participate. I am resigning from active politics from today. My complete statement will be published in the media tomorrow. Thank you. May God bless Kenya.”

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