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Kenyatta versus Odinga: Are We Going To See A Peaceful Climax To the Age-long Rivalry In Kenya?


By Felix Ugboja (with Agency Report)

ABUJA (Sundiata Post) While Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared winner of the Kenyan 2017 presidential elections, it is certainly not yet uhuru as claims of electoral rigging and violence lingers on. Following the strangling of the country’s top electoral ICT officer, Chris Msando before the election, many Kenyans had casted doubt in the peaceful turn out of the event.

Kenya, a country of 48 million people with several tribes can certainly be considered a large country, but such diversity is rarely noticeable in its top political scene. A democratic country, but power has majorly revolved around two families in its 54 years of independence. Just like its past two Presidential elections, the race always has a familiar contender in the person of Raila Odinga, who has formerly served as a Prime Minister. Several reports confirm that Raila Odinga disagrees with the outcome of the election which puts his arch rival Uhuru Kenyatta ahead.

The two Presidential candidates’ fathers Jomo Kenyatta and Jaramogi Odinga were allies in the struggle for independence, but later became bitter rivals, setting the stage for decades of political rancour.

Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the sitting President and declared winner of the election by the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC), is the son of Kenya’s first President and Founding Father, Jomo Kenyatta, while Raila Odinga’s father, Jaramogi Odinga served as his vice, but later became an opposition leader following an era of irreconcilable differences between the two. Raila Odinga’s brother, Oburu Odinga has also once served as assistant Minister of Finance in the East African country, while current President, Uhuru Kenyatta has also previously served as a deputy prime minister.

Clearly, the political rivalry between these two was started by their fathers and it has not been without a history of bloodshed. A disputed poll a decade ago led to two months of politically motivated ethnic clashes, which along with a police crackdown on protests left more than 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

As expected, following his loss this year, Odinga headed to the court. “By going to court we are not legitimising misplaced calls from some observers for us to concede. We are seeking to give to those who braved the long lines in the morning chill and hot afternoon … a chance to be heard,” he told Reuters.

So far, both the European Union and other foreign observers who earlier praised the election has called on the election commission to publish all remaining forms showing vote tallies on its website to ensure transparency. Many, including Odinga believe that the credibility of last week’s election was hinged on the availability of the 34A and 34B forms.

But as Odinga seeks legal action, one thing is even clearer – the age-long rivalry between the two families is probably reaching its climax. Odinga is 72, and will most likely be unable to contest another election in the future no matter the outcome of the court decision. Sources also suggest Odinga could open channels for private talks with the Government following reports that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s emissaries saw him on Friday night.

Come what may, it is the expectation of everyone that such violence that characterised the ones before do not repeat itself, and that Odinga’s supporters comport themselves in a peaceful manner while the government also play its part by protecting them.

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