OMWENGA: We must have peaceful elections

In Summary

• Violence following elections is something we must not have and both camps must strive to give us a peaceful election.

• We have a beautiful country full of great potential.

A ballot box at a polling station during a past vote.
A ballot box at a polling station during a past vote.
Image: FILE

Azimio flagbearer Raila Odinga and running mate Martha Karua have the momentum ahead of Tuesday’s elections, going by how things have shaped up in the last few days of the campaigns.

The reception the two have been receiving at the rallies has been increasingly receptive, even among those who previously did not like Raila, especially in the Mt Kenya region.

On the other hand, the house UDA presidential candidate William Ruto built on the sand in Mt Kenya has started to crumble such that come Tuesday, it will be no more but a pile of rubble. With the crumbling of Ruto’s house in the sand in Mt. Kenya so goes Ruto’s presidential hopes.

The DP based his entire presidential bid strategy on winning big in Mt Kenya and holding Raila and Karua locked out of the Rift Valley. For this reason, Ruto spent an inordinate amount of time camping in Mt Kenya, where he wasted no time trashing, insulting and smearing President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila for years since his fall-out with the president. The strategy worked for some time as Ruto appeared to have very strong and insurmountable support in the region.

That changed with the selection of Karua as Raila’s running mate. The Narc-K leader selection brought an excitement to the Azimio campaign that shifted the ground in Mt Kenya in favor of Azimio. That excitement, especially among women, continues to drive the momentum Raila and Karua are enjoying with nothing Ruto can do to reverse it.

This leaves Ruto to do what many in a race do when facing certain defeat at the polls and that is to conjure up desperate strategies to somehow be relevant post-election. When allegations emerged there were plans afoot to use violence to gain Ruto sympathy votes, Ruto was quick to deny any such plans and certainly not at his direction.

One would have to give him the benefit of doubt as the deputy president knows or must know the dire consequences not just for him but for the country for anyone who purveys or even contemplates violence as a means to get to office.

To be sure and given Ruto’s history with the International Criminal Court some of the language the deputy president has used and continues to use in rallying his supporters could be construed to be dog whistling. But, and again, one must give Ruto the benefit of doubt and believe he will honor what he pledged to Americans during his visit to the US that he stands for peaceful elections.

Raila has made the same pledge, so the belief must be we shall have peaceful elections regardless of who emerges at the top as the winner.

In the same vein, this is our election and as we always say, no foreign government should even think twice about interfering.

Violence following elections is something we must not have and both camps must strive to give us a peaceful election. I have focused on the Ruto camp because they are the ones more likely to resort to violence as Raila and Karua have the momentum to emerge with victory come Tuesday.

Ruto being behind in the polls and having no chance reversing his fortunes in Mt Kenya and across the country, it is him who one can postulate will try and use violence to force a Nusu-mkate government.

Raila has been in the trenches fighting for our freedoms for ages and many believe he has won the presidency at least twice but not sworn. This is his moment and if Ruto were a wiser leader, he would lift the foot off the gas pedal and let Raila have his moment.

It would be unpatriotic to want to be president by any means, especially since he is young enough to contend the presidency even as many times as Raila and when his moment arrives. He, too can have the moment.

We have a beautiful country full of great potential. Let’s all make sure come Tuesday, we finally set the country on the path to full peace and prosperity.

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