Raila Odinga’s reaction to the decisions of Kenya’s Supreme Court to unanimously uphold the result of the presidential election is perhaps understandable but if he continues in this vein he runs the risk of damaging his reputation and undermining much that he claims to passionately support.
RAILA ODINGA’S STATEMENT
Following the Supreme Court’s announcement on Saturday, Raila Odinga issued a statement which contained some classic ‘double speak’.
“It was clear”, said Raila, “that the constitutionally sanctioned process of elected leaders had been thwarted again by another tainted election”.
“But”, he continued, “that has not dented my commitment to constitutionalism and the rule of law”.
“I pledged to abide by the court decision” when taking legal action in the Supreme Court, Raila Odinga declared later in the same statement yet he also expressed “regret that the court disallowed evidence” and that “Kenyans lost their right to know what happened”.
INTERVIEW WITH THE BBC
The pain of losing an election after such a long and hard struggle must be immense for the man most identified with that defeat. Sadness, bitterness even, directly in the aftermath is surely understandable but in an interview with the BBC just 24 hours after issuing his statement Raila Odinga’s position seemed to have hardened, not mellowed in any way.
ELECTION A “REPLICA” OF 2007 – ODINGA
“The wounds [of the disputed 2007 election] unfortunately have not been healed”, Raila Odinga told the BBC. “In fact they have been opened by what is a replica, a repeat of what happened five years ago”, he continued.
“What is the point of people going for an election if the results are already pre-determined and manipulated by a few technocrats?” he asked.
“I DID NOT LOSE” – ODINGA
Reporting Odinga’s interview The Star quoted a source who said that Raila Odinga had reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision with the words: “I did not lose. It’s Kenya that has lost”.
We have heard this double talk before in which, for example, Raila Odinga declares that he will support the Supreme Court, casts doubt on whether his opponents will do so, but meanwhile sends his political troops out to the countryside to tell supporters that the election was rigged.
“Casting doubt on the judgment of the court could… make it more difficult for our country to move forward.” “I did not lose. It’s Kenya that has lost”.
Before the rigged election theory passes into Kenyan history again, let us just state the facts, even if we do not like them.
Uhuru Kenyatta won the 2013 election. His alliance registered more supporters and then turned out more of them on polling day than did the Odinga alliance. There may have been discrepancies but nowhere enough to overturn a majority in Kenyatta’s favour of over 830,000 votes. The Supreme Court was right.
“CASTING DOUBT” AND HYPOCRISY
In his post election statement Raila Odinga said: “Casting doubt on the judgment of the court could lead to higher political and economic uncertainty, and make it more difficult for our country to move forward”. He was quite right but should heed his own words.
In the interview with the BBC Raila Odinga also said: “As I said three weeks ago, we have faith in the Supreme Court and I will look a hypocrite to say we do not have faith in this court because it has made a ruling against us”. Again he was quite right and yes, Odinga is in danger of looking like a hypocrite.
KENYA’S FUTURE AND ODINGA’S LEGACY
This is all a great pity on several levels.
Raila Odinga has given Kenya great service. He has struggled in a good cause. To finish this stage of his long and largely distinguished political career in uncalled for acrimony and hypocrisy would be a great shame.
To continue the back biting and accusation slinging after the Supreme Court’s decision also runs the risk of inciting everything Raila Odinga says he wants to avoid – resentment, anger, bitterness and even violence.
And to continue to call into question the result of the election and particularly the deliberations and decisions of the Supreme Court could also undermine Kenya’s stability, the Judiciary and our new constitutional settlement.
Kenya, the Forum believes, will accept the court’s decisions and move on. Raila Odinga should do likewise both for his country’s and his own sake.