This morning’s posting set the Kenya Forum team thinking and debating. A can of worms has been opened, the cat is amongst the pigeons, Pandora’s box has been opened (and other such metaphors come to mind, but enough), certainly the permutations of what may or may not happen in the run up to the next presidential election in Kenya have been increased, following Uhuru Kenyatta’s resignation as Finance Minister.
ODINGA VS KENYATTA
Let us start from this basic premise: at present the only person who realistically stands a chance of running against Raila Odinga for the presidency and perhaps win it, is Uhuru Kenyatta. The Prime Minister and the ODM want Kenyatta either wounded or out of the game altogether.
As we pointed out in our last posting at 7am Nairobi time today (see below), the National Accord agreed to by the Mwai Kibaki and Raila in 2008 specifically states that anyone charged with crimes related to the post-election violence that followed the 2007 election, has to stand down from office, but an individual would have to be convicted of such crimes to stop him or her standing for elected office.
KENYATTA: HEADS HE STANDS, TAILS… HE STANDS
The Kenya Forum has considered the logic flowing from the National Accord. Kenyatta can stand for the presidency because he has not been convicted and he’s unlikely to be so before the next election. The ICC process, first two or three months to hear and decide whether those to be charged can appeal, then two or three months to hear an appeal, if it has been allowed, and then a trial lasting who knows how long: result, Kenyatta, even if found guilty, won’t have to face that prospect until after the next election.
There’s also the question of when the National Accord ceases to apply. As far as the Forum can see it no longer has effect as of the election of the next president, or at the point the signatories to the Accord call the whole thing off. Either way, charged or convicted, Kenyatta can stand. If he is charged he can stand. If the National Accord no longer applies, he can stand.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED THIS: SECTION 8 OF THE NATIONAL ACCORD
And there’s one other slight matter that no one in the press seems to have picked up on. Section 8 of the ‘National Accord and Reconciliation Act’ [for full text click HERE] reads: This Act shall cease to apply upon dissolution of the tenth Parliament, if the coalition is dissolved, or a new constitution is enacted, whichever is earlier. Have we ‘enacted’ a new constitution, or not?
UHURU KENYATTA: WOUNDED BEAST OR POLITICALLY STRENGTHEND?
Writing in today’s Daily Nation Murithi Mutiga declared, ‘the reality is that it is hard to imagine a presidential run by someone facing charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague in modern day Kenya’. The Kenya Forum begs to differ: we can quite imagine just such a scenario.
As Murithi Mutiga rightly asserts, Raila Odinga’s poll ratings have dropped over the last year or so, from around 47 percentage points to perhaps 37 per cent. Kenyatta’s ratings, meanwhile, have increased to approximately 22 percentage points.
The analogy of Uhuru Kenyatta being a wounded beast may be wrong; politically his position may have been strengthened.
The Raila Odinga/ODM camp that was perhaps celebrating in haste may come to repent at leisure; Kenyatta’s not out of the game.