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August 21, 2018

G-Spot: Where do we go next after disputed election?

Nasa leader Raila Odinga during a rally at Uhuru Park Photo/Courtesy
Nasa leader Raila Odinga during a rally at Uhuru Park Photo/Courtesy

I begin with a disclaimer this week. This column is being written on Monday, October 23, and as I cannot see into the future, I have no idea what happened in Kenya on Thursday, October 26.

That said, I can speculate on what might have happened afterwards, given a number of different scenarios.

Scenario one: President Uhuru Kenyatta and the NASA leader Raila Odinga got together and took steps to lower the political temperature with a political compromise from both sides and supported the IEBC in a quest to get the Supreme Court to help resolve the current impasse. 

This scenario would involve horse-trading similar to that seen in 1997 with the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group, and would probably be messy — compromises often are. It wouldn’t suit everyone, and on both sides, there would be those who felt hard done by, but it would give us all a chance to explore the way ahead without the pressure of an election.

Scenario two: Uhuru and Raila stuck to their guns, with the President participating in an election without a serious challenger and the former Prime Minister sitting it out.  

Let’s face it, one of the reasons we are in the position we find ourselves in, is both men can be stubborn and hard-headed. They both currently seem to be in a headspace where they feel it’s their way or the highway, and to hell with the consequences. 

This obduracy is seen as a strength by their supporters and a weakness by their opponents, but it is also quite unhelpful in the realm of nation building.

There are a number of other possible scenarios and outcomes, some just too awful to be considered, while others are too much of a Hollywood ending, in that they are sentimental or simplistic and have an improbably positive outcome and may be just as awful to imagine.

We all know how we got here. The question now is: Where do we go next?

If it was up to me, we would never have arrived here. You may recall that one of the ideas put forward to the Constitutional Review Commission for the governance section of the constitution before the 2002 election, was the creation of a robust Premiership and a less powerful President, akin to the situation in France or even Israel, for that matter.

The thing about having a PM like this is that, while there are no term limits, there is also the chance that one can come to the office in one election, be voted out at the next and return in the one after that if the voters so decide. 

The point here is that if people knew that their candidate could have another bite at the cherry further down the line, then no election would end up being a literal matter of life and death.

The situation could be treated like a football league in which no one team stays at the top forever, and thus all are kept on their toes, seeking to do the best by the majority of voters.

Perhaps now I’m the one being sentimental and simplistic, but that’s my two-bobs’ worth, and I look forward to hearing yours.

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