By Francis Ngwa Niba
Officials of the newly created Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday decided to start counting votes by hand after the much hyped electronics system unexpectedly crashed. Kenyans might now have to wait till Monday March 11 for results of the highly contested presidential elections.
Opposition leader Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto will face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague next month for their role in the post electoral violence of 2007-2008 in which more than a thousand people were killed.
Early results indicate Uhuru Kenyatta is way ahead in the vote count and could easily defeat his main rival incumbent Prime Minister Raila Odinga without the need for a second round of voting. If Mr Kenyatta wins the elections, Kenya will become the first country in history where it’s president elect is also facing criminal charges in an international court where he just might be convicted.
Raila Odinga pointed this strange eventuality during the campaigns when he asked light heatedly if Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate will be able to run the government of Kenya “through skype” from the Hague.
This is definately no joking matter and might lead to more violence in Kenya which is exactly what the ICC wanted to avoid by indicting suspects of the 2007 post electoral violence. The ICC indictment unfortunately overshadowed other cmapign issues that included unemployment and the provision of basic social amenities like water and good housing.
Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta Face-off
Kenya on the edge
Apart from the presidential elections, Kenyans also voted for members of parliament, senate and local councils. There is a row now on whether to include rejected votes which now amount to 6 percent of the total vote count in the final presidential vote tally.
If this happens, there might be no need for a second round but Raila Odinga believes keeping them off the count is now his only chance of qualifying for a run-off. The present electoral system was agreed upon following negotiations chaired by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan following the 2007-2008 post electoral violence.
Kenya is on edge and the world watches the elcetions closely with everyone hoping there is no repeat of elections related violence. Kenyan Television (KTN) and other media organizations has been carrying goodwill messages in English and a hosts of local Kenyan languages on the need to maintain peace at all cost. Nobody wants a repeat of the 2007-2008 situation.
What happens next?
Predicting what will happen next is as difficult as predicting the British weather. Uncertainty is the name of the game. With more than a thousand people killed in 2008, it is right the ICC gets those concerned punished. The names of those involved in the violence are too big for any Kenyan court to handle which is why the ICC decided to take action. Some critics however add that the ICC is only adding salt to injury.
Kenya is not the first country that suffered from post electoral violence though it is true the violence there was particularly widespread and the dead toll very high. Why did the ICC not intervene in other countries that suffered the same fate like Zimbabwe?
There is also the arguement that the ICC is taking an unhealthy interest in African Affairs and politicians because they are less powerful and Influencial than their western counterparts.
The ICC has remained mute after calls it prosecutes former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US president George Bush for invading Iraq in 2003. However, the ICC wasted no time in indicting former Liberian president Charles Taylor and former Ivorian president Laurent Ghagbo. Charles Taylor received a prison sentense he has appealed against while the trial of Laurent Ghagbo began recently.
A whole new chapter in international politics, crime and punishment will be opened by the ICC if Uhuru Kenyatta wins the presidential elections and is tried and sentensed in the Hague. Kenya and Africa will as always, be left to pick the pieces.