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DESPITE ELECTION VIOLENCE, CORRUPTION AND CONTROVERSY KENYA IS MATURING INTO VIBRANT DEMOCRACY

I was in Kenyan capital, Nairobi, watching the local TV stations when late President Mwai Kibaki unilaterally crowned himself president of Kenya for 2nd term in office in December 2007. It happened in a such dramatic fashion that tallying election results were discontinued suddenly and Kibaki declared president in disbelief! Rival Raila Odinga then, his supporters and the whole country were in shock as they couldn’t fathom what was unfolding in the State House. By eight o’clock local time I could see through the windows of my apartment in Chester House that city streets were deserted for fear of election violence. Nairobi is the home of huge poverty-stricken slums like Kibera whose residents no army could stop them as they could storm the city in protest. The atmosphere breathed trouble for all. Many had lost their lives in Rift Valley towns and other precincts as a result. The controversy and election challenges continued for a year or two, prompting intervention and mediation by foreign statesmen, including late Secretary-General of the United Nations, Koffi Anan.

Looking back at that election incident, one would find that Kenya has history of election disputes and results were never accepted or conceded by the losing party.

By world election standards, there could be always some poll irregularities even in advanced democracies, but the final judgement lies in the fact whether these irregularities amount to a degree that significantly change the election overall results.

Enter 2022 general election. William Ruto has been just declared President-elect, this time by the Chairman of IEBC ( Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission). The Chairman, however, had some members of his team boycotting the ceremony for declaring Ruto President-elect, a typical scenario consistent with Kenya’s election history.

In this election, it is fair to say that there will be protests, even violence in some counties and court challenges, but the election win of William Ruto will prevail as this was the most transparent election in Kenya’s history. Despite its devastating culture of corruption, election manipulation and violence, Kenya has matured into a thriving democracy. Congratulations!

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