OPINION: Losing a presidential election is not a national crisis
By Raphael Tuju
I have keenly followed the political discussion in the country after last week’s declaration of president Kenyatta as the winner of the recent repeat election. One of the questions that has been repeatedly asked by many is, what next after President Kenyatta’s win.
As a country, I think we are slowly losing our sense of direction. Losing an election is neither a political nor a constitutional crisis. Elections are lost and people move on to other engagements in life. It seems that it is only in Kenya where a lost election becomes a national crisis.
In the August election, hundreds of aspirants lost elections in this country. None of those who lost in any of the electoral positions be it gubernatorial, senatorial, member of parliament or even member of county assembly has sought to hold the areas they sought to represent at ransom. Most have moved on while others have sought redress through the courts.
In November 2016, Americans had elections. Hillary Clinton received 2.6 million more popular votes than Donald Trump but Trump won more electoral college votes. Turnout was just above 55 per cent and Trump won only 26.7 per cent of that vote. Elections ended. Trump is President. The loser conceded and America moved on. There were no sideshows in America nor were there calls for dialogue or any other interventions. They simply stuck to the American constitution and forged ahead.
It is becoming bad manners that whenever an election is held in Kenya, the losers or in our case with the repeat Presidential election, those who voluntarily opt out of the contest seek to whip up public emotions with a view of using extra constitutional means to achieve their ambitions. We first experienced this with the disputed election of 2007 then it happened again in 2013 and now we are in 2017 and the same script is playing out.
For a budding democracy like Kenya, this trend we’ve developed over the last three elections doesn’t reflect well on our political character and mannerism, and has to stop.
Sadly, one of the prime perpetrators of the perpetual playing of the victim by the opposition whenever they lose an election is the media, both local and international.
The media in Kenya is abusing it’s agenda setting role by working hard to create a crisis out of nothing. When Hillary Clinton lost the contest for the American presidency to Donald Trump, we didn’t see the American media creating platforms for the loser to play victim. The media didn’t run around with some perverted news headlines of oh, national crisis. Oh, dialogue.
In Kenya, the situation is different, our media has dedicated acres of space and airtime for the opposition to advance a crisis that doesn’t exist. In any election, the outcome is either a win or a loss. Nothing in between. Therefore, one shouldn’t enter into an election contest expecting only victory and anything else is rigging.
As a right thinking Kenyan, I am therefore dumbfounded by the media’s framing of the recent clear election outcome as a crisis.
All I see in the media today is a properly designed campaign by the opposition to discredit constitutional institutions for selfish ends.
The sensational television and newspaper headlines we are treated to everyday are all a creation of an opposition that is unable to fight it out in a free and fair political contest.
It is therefore insincere for the media to continue creating an imaginary political crisis as if we all don’t know the laid out constitutional recourse mechanisms.
Raila Odinga losing the presidential race for the fifth time is not a national crisis. It’s an election loss like the more than 100 gubernatorial aspirants who lost. It’s just another political contest lost like the many parliamentary aspirants who lost and moved on. We shouldnt therefore seek to hold the country at ransom because an election was fairly lost.
The media, the clergy, civil society groupings and the citizens must stop cuddling political gangsterism in which political losers become some kind of above the law gang bangers commanding militia and alleniating parts of the country from the mainstream. Kenya is one united sovereign state and anybody engaged in hyping and cheer leading a nonexistent political crisis should be called out and ashamed.
* Tuju is Secretary-General of the ruling Jubilee Party