Is Kenya Gearing Up For War Come August 8th?

Only a few days remain before the Kenya national elections on August 8th. Tensions from most people are running high especially considering what happened last time back in 2007. As opposed to 2013, the stakes have never been higher for the opposition leader and NASA flag-bearer, Raila Odinga. This is because he is 72 years old and he has made several deals with his running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, that should he win the upcoming elections, he would not vie a second term in 2022 but instead let Musyoka take the reins in running for president of Kenya.

Recently, tempers have been flaring hot with Raila Odinga claiming that Jubilee, led by the incumbent president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is preparing the military to rig elections and alleging “suspicious” military training at the Embakasi Military Barracks involving several branches of security personnel in Kenya. “These training are all currently underway at Embakasi barracks. They have every semblance with what was done at the same venue in the lead-up to the 2007 General Election in which APs were later dispersed as election officials and poll agents for the Party of National Unity,” he said. However, these claims were swiftly rebuffed by the government.

“The government does not stop working just because we have elections. Security agencies play an integral role in elections. The NIS, KDF, NPS and all other security agencies will continue working even as we go to the election,” Replied interior ministry spokesperson Mwenda Njoka.

The situation has become so tenuous that NASA has decided to set up a parallel tallying center during the elections to safeguard against any possible election rigging. There are plenty of mixed feelings about these tallying centers all over the country. Naturally, NASA defends them while Jubilee will go on the offense. In the process, there is bound to plenty of hate speech and ethnic remarks that will anger many people. It is also important to remember that the nation is it in a very good place right now. The living conditions are very bad due to the ongoing drought. Communities might be blaming each other’s leaders and by extension the tribes where the leaders hail from. Most people are at the precipice because of it. They are just waiting for the election results come in August.

It is perfectly legal for anyone to have a tallying center. However, only the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is legally mandated to announce the official results of the election. Therein lies the problem. What if the two tallying centers don’t match? Who to believe then? The IEBC? Most people are going to be hard pressed into trusting it after the 2007 debacle. This is despite the announcement from the IEBC that it will employ high-tech systems to guard against any malpractices. The IEBC is running very low on trust from Kenyans, especially of certain tribes. Sad as it is, the Kenyan political map is still delineated along tribal lines. If this weren’t the case, the matter would be different.

There is a general feeling among most people that there will be clashes and most people are preparing for them. They are either going home to their rural places or making any necessary preparations. Even companies are preparing their employees in anticipation of clashes. This includes things like stocking up on food at homes, having full tanks of gas, not staying out too late at night.

The economy will also take a hit because most investors would be averse to investing in such uncertain times. Those already there would be moving to protect their assets as soon as possible. This is a good time to be in the insurance business in the nation.

You reap what you sow. These are not signs of a country preparing for peace. Let us not disillusion ourselves here. We must face facts as they are. As such, the government needs to make preparations and take all the precautionary measures to ensure that this fine nation is peaceful. The leaders need to take responsibility to preach for peace and unity. That is the only way that we can move forward and prosper a country. The nation took a big hit, one whose damage is still felt several years later. We cannot stand another hit. It ended the last time after very protracted negotiations and lengthy efforts between the parties involved. The cities turn red with blood and death. Who is to say it will stop this time if it were to start considering that there are still very bitter feeling still from last time. We simply cannot take it. The government and the public need to take responsibility and refuse to be drawn to violence.

Ferdinand Bada
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