Aden Duale : Raila’s real manifesto is refusing to accept electoral outcomes

NASA leader Raila Odinga
NASA leader Raila Odinga. Photo/File


ODM leader and presidential aspirant Raila Odinga has always had a hard time with democracy and the electoral process. It is hard to find a single occasion where he accepted the outcome of an electoral process without a fight in court or in the streets. He has always contested when he did not receive the result he sought.

Perhaps his experience in the former communist Soviet Union where he was educated behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in East Germany has something to do with it. In Soviet Union, there was no democracy, no participatory elections and little freedom of thought or action.

French novelist and philosopher André Malraux once said: “Communism destroys democracy. Democracy can also destroy Communism.”

Judging by the amount of time Raila spent in communist countries and his closeness to communist regimes, it is clear that the cause and necessity of democracy and participatory politics is not something that was imbued in him to say the least.

If one looks at Raila’s career, first under the tutelage of his father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, who fought for closer ties with the Soviet Union and other countries of the Warsaw Pact during his years in government, and then his own flirtation with socialism, that democracy was never a prime interest or ideal.

In these elections, Raila’s anti-democratic dalliances are once again coming to the fore. For months now, ODM’s main manifesto has not been about improving the lives of the Kenyan people, but about obstructing and delegitimizing every aspect of Kenyan democracy.

Raila has attacked and sought to undo the Kenyan Constitution, the bedrock of Kenyan representative democracy, the IEBC, the body charged by the constitution with overseeing elections, and the judiciary, one of the necessary checks and balances of liberal democratic society.

While many Kenyans now have ill feeling towards some or all of these institutions it is almost certainly because of the almost daily attacks against them by Raila and his minions. Mostly, these attacks are unwarranted and without explanation, unless one understands the worldview and strategy of Raila Odinga.

However, most egregious are Raila’s attempts to prevent the elections from taking place at all.

Raila knows full well that if the elections do not take place on August 8th then it will create a constitutional crisis and he never loses a good opportunity to take advantage of chaos rather than receiving a mandate through the voting booths.

So Raila is currently amassing all of his resources in trying to prevent the IEBC from doing its work in preparing for the elections.

First, Raila tried to cancel the ballot paper printing contract awarded to Dubai Company, Al Ghurair, on his spurious claims that the firm has close relations with the Kenyatta family. His proof was that the head of Al Ghurair was part of a delegation from Dubai which once met with Kenyan leaders. After being asked by the IEBC for actual proof that there were personal contacts, neither Raila nor ODM was able to provide any.

Furthermore, evidence has since come to light that Raila has very close ties with one of the major companies that just lost out on the ballot papers printing contract.

Raila knows that to cancel the contract at this late stage would certainly mean a delay of the elections and the necessity for a transitional government, which he could infiltrate and coopt.

Now the attack on the ballot papers printing contract is failing, Raila and ODM have now moved to suing the IEBC for having a back-up system for the elections should some of the electronic voting devices fail.

With around 40 days left until the elections, this new legal strike is another merely barrage in Raila’s attack on the electoral process.

More than his aversion to democracy, these latest attacks are probably just as representative of Raila’s understanding that the elections are not going his way. He will undoubtedly have undertaken regular polls and surveys, and to try and delay, suspend or nullify the elections is perhaps his last chance to gain power through the back door of a transitional government.

This is just a repackaged tactic that worked for him in 2007-8 when he took advantage of the post-election violence to ensure that he would be crowned prime minister by the international community without a mandate.

Every attack on the elections is therefore further evidence of Raila’s reticence towards democracy and representative politics. This and the opportunity to delay and therefore prevent the elections from taking place in order to weasel his way into power in opposition of the will of the people, are the real reasons Raila is scared of elections.



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