To wait and see

9. March the Election Commission of Kenya declared Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the country’s presidential election 2013. Kenyatta had with the least possible margin acquired enough votes to secure victory in the first election round. Half the population celebrated while the other half was left tremendously disappointed.

The image of two political camps with strikingly opposite spirit after an election is familiar from other countries that are dominated by two major parties. The difference is that where for example the Republican’s disappointment in the U.S. after the elections this fall had its origins in a political defeat, the disappointment in Kenya is linked to the system and the electoral process. In Kenya today about fifty percent of the population is left with fundamental questions about the election process, the circumstances surrounding the counting and the announcement of the winner. The second half however looks at the electoral process and the result as a confirmation of how well the system works.

Better than last time

One thing, however, most Kenyans agree on, and that is that the election process did go a lot better this time than in 2007. Kenyans have shown a strong political engagement and had a voter turnout on 86 %. A number we only can dream about in Norway. We also see that the elections, with a few exceptions, have gone off peacefully, and that Kenyans this time did not go out into the streets to demonstrate their displeasure, but put their trust in the Kenyan justice system.

Special Advisor at the Oslo Center Bjarte Tørå tells us that daily life in Kenya is now back to normal after having been at a standstill in the period between the elections and the announcement of the winner. He expects daily life will continue as normal even though Odinga will file a petition to the Supreme Court. When the Supreme Court receives the petition it will spend around fourteen days to process it. This will postpone the inauguration of a new president, which now will happen seven days after the verdict, unless the Supreme Court agrees with the petition. Then Kenya will have sixty days in which to carry out new elections.

Kenyans hope that an orderly legal process can answer their questions. We can only wait and see.

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