Monday, December 31, 2007

124 dead in Kenya after Kibaki "wins" re-election

Kenyan leader Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of a controversial presidential election... and was sworn in for a second term almost immediately. Kenya's electoral commission claimed that Kibaki beat his main rival Raila Odinga by around 230,000 out of approximately 9.8 million votes cast, or a 2.4 percent margin of victory.

The result was denounced by Odinga's camp following claims of vote rigging. At least one polling station reported 115 percent voter turnout and another saw a candidate run away with ballot papers.

While Kibaki himself declared the election free and free, outside observers weren't so sure. The chief European Union observer said some doubts remained about the credibility of the election.

More disturbingly, at least 124 people have already died in clashes related to the election controversy.

The US ambassador to Kenya told CNN television called on Kenyans to refrain from violence. He pointed out that the country was governed by the rule of law and that people should take up their election protests via legal means.

However, this was undermined by the fact that Kibaki was hurriedly sworn in for his second term only an hour after the electoral commission announced the results. The ceremony was reportedly held in private and only in the presence a handful of western reporters and only a single Kenyan journalist.

If Kenya's governed by the rule of law, then the rule of law needs time to actually be applied. The fact that Kibaki was sworn in so hastily will surely be seen as an attempt to circumvent the rule of law and any potential legal challenges to his 'victory.' No court is going to overturn the victory of a president who's already been sworn in.

The decision to inaugurate Kibaki with record speed could have dangerous consequences, especially in a country where over a hundred people are already dead in election violence.

The hasty swearing in has only served to increase suspicion that the election was fixed. If Kibaki won fair and square, then surely he had nothing to fear from legal challenges.

Kibaki will surely call for peace and reconciliation but already aggrieved opponents will feel even more bitter that he prevented the legal process from running its course. In denying them legal avenues of protest, Kibaki's decision risks stirring more violence in his divided country.

I don't know if Mwai Kibaki and his party stole the election, but he's certainly acting like it.

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At 2:41 PM, Blogger JCN said...

I am apparently an idiot, because I thought Kibaki cared enough about Kenya and/or his legacy to not pull something this stupid and divisive.


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