Uhuru Kenyatta was always the more popular Presidential candidate, his down to earth approachable style appealed to the people. Raila Odinga, a former Prime Minister (2008-2013) on his fourth attempt at Kenya’s Presidency was perceived as a civil rights activist with a reputation for inciting violence (post-election in 2007). He was also charged with treason for a coup attempt in 1982. Nevertheless, there was never a forgone conclusion, even right up to the last poll. Reading between the lines, it looks like Kenyatta was always the preferred messenger, but his original message was not quite striking the right note. Kenyans wanted change, something Odinga was promising. Kenyans wanted a President who would deliver a strong economy, lots of jobs and lower prices. To start his campaign, Kenyatta was campaigning on his successes, the completion of the SGR railway and the creation of 2.5 million jobs. Then he shifted towards how much more he wanted to do. Following his manifesto launch, Kenyatta introduced an action plan detailing his intentions: to create 6.5 million jobs over the next five years, to invest in the economy to support agriculture, businesses and infrastructure, to lower inflation, to boost international trade and to make Kenya a top destination for foreign investment. This appealed not only to the majority of Kenyan people, but also to the important Indian diaspora, who found Kenyatta’s message credible for their businesses. Kenyatta had previously recognised Kenyans of Indian descent as the 44th tribe of Kenya and invited them to participate in the political, economic, cultural and social development of the nation.
The voting passed off peacefully, albeit with grim aftershocks. Nearly 20 million voters across the country cast their ballot. Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party) was announced the President for a second term of five years, with 54.8% of the vote, with 1.5milion votes more than Raila Odinga, former Prime Minister and leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and Principal of the National Super Alliance (NASA), formed as a coalition of a few left-wing parties to contest the election. As expected, Odinga lost no time in rejecting the results, which he described as a fraud and insisted that the system had been hacked by Jubilee. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IECB) and Jubilee denied this. Later, the IEBC admitted that an unsuccessful attempt had been made to hack into the system, but no damage had resulted. Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry, former Republic of South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki and former President of Ghana, John Mahama observed the tallying process, which they considered “sound”.
The observer missions from the EU, the Commonwealth, the AU and the US were satisfied and gave credit to the IEBC for setting up an efficient system; it is reported that UK invested £30 million from the aid budget in ensuring the elections were free and fair. Offenders in prison voted for the first time and Lamu Island residents defied the dusk to dawn curfew to queue up in early hours.
The government has said that the conflicting reports of 10 to 24 deaths following the violence that erupted in NASA areas after the election results, are to be probed speedily.
Before and after polling day, NASA made allegations of vote rigging by the IEBC, claiming that some election materials were not sent out and were left in Nairobi. NASA leaders originally said they would challenge the result in the “court of public opinion” but on Thursday they announced the result was “computer generated” and they were going to move the Supreme Court. The IEBC ICT manager, Chris Msando, went missing before the election. He had earlier reported receiving threatening messages and feared for his life; his car was tracked by surveillance and his body was found in a forest with injuries to the head and neck. The post mortem showed he had a fractured skull, incisions on his right arm. He had been strangled. Soon afterwards, the body of a woman, a close friend of his, was found strangled nearby. The incident caused concern as he was one of the few who knew the location of all the ICT servers used by the IEBC. Both the UK and the US have offered to help in the investigations. Police arrested three suspects for questioning and are examining Msando’s cell phone data. No likely motive has been suggested other than his work with the IEBC. Nine candidates in the polls were fined KShs15.4millon in total by the IEBC for electoral misconduct and some have been barred from further campaigning.
Both sides tried to break the traditional tribal voting patterns in favour of individual personalities and policies; Kenyatta was successful in securing a significant 15% increase at the coast, in Nyansa and in western Kenya. Sarah Korere defeated Matthew Lempurkel (who is in court for two cases of incitement of racial hatred/violence against European ranchers in Laikipia) to take the MP seat for Laikipia North, where the land invasions have occurred. In a fillip for equality, women ousted three incumbent male governors. The ousted Nairobi governor complained that the system had been hacked. Odinga was replaced as MP for Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. As a Presidential candidate, he could not stand as an MP and is therefore no longer in Parliament. Overall, Jubilee won 25 governor seats, 18 senators and 138 MPs and 25 women representatives, compared to NASA’s 18 governors, 20 senators and 108 MPs.