Uhuru Kenyatta may have won the Kenyan presidential election, but the dust has yet to settle.
He barely made it past the 50 percent mark to avoid a runoff with the current Prime Minister Raila Odinga. The election itself exceeded and fell below expectations. Violence did not follow, as some warned, and the voter turnout was much higher than predicted. What looked like a likely runoff between Odinga and Kenyatta appears to be over.
All of this raises some new questions.
I spoke with Kennedy Opalo to hear about his personal experience voting in the election, why the turnout was higher than expected and what may come next following the final results.
Opalo is a Nairobi native who is presently studying for his Political Science PhD at Stanford University as the Susan Ford Dorsey Fellow. He also writes the popular blog Opalo’s Weblog, a vital resource on issues regarding Kenyan politics. In the run up to the election, Opalo published analysis of the campaigns and opinion polls. Read on for his view of the process and where this is all headed.
What was your experience like in terms of voting? How did people you know feel about the campaign, election, media coverage and vote tally?
I waited for three hours to vote. And this was in a relatively sparsely populated area of Nairobi. I heard stories of people who got in line at 5 AM and did not vote until in the early afternoon. Continue reading
Apologies to Mark Twain, for bastardizing the title of his novel about a Connecticut engineer transported back to King Arthur’s time. But it seemed like a nice, phonetic headline for this guest column by Michael Golomb, a University of Washington student who, with his physician fiance Aliza Monroe-Wise, is in Kenya working on a variety of development & health issues. I asked Mike for his perspective on Kenya’s recent elections. More about both of them at bottom.
By Michael Golomb
As an American student temporarily living in Kenya and witness to the recent elections here, I’ve gained a unique perspective on how distinctly different a story looks depending upon how it’s covered and by whom.
- Polling station in a Maasai village. Laikipia district, central Kenya
- Mike Golomb
Leading up to Kenya’s election, western media mostly ran with headlines playing up the fear of political violence while Kenyan newspapers reported on the problems, but also on the progress being made, the many peace parades and positive political dynamics.
On March 9th, Uhuru Kenyatta was announced the winner of the election by both the Kenyan government and international observers. His challenger, Raila Odinga, condemned the process as fraudulent – but also called upon his supporters to refrain from violence and said that the matter would be taken up by the Kenyan judiciary at a later date.
So far, only isolated demonstrations have occurred. There have been no widespread demonstrations or violence like what took place here in 2007 and 2008. Odinga’s camp has made numerous public statements urging peace and denouncing violence as a roadblock to electoral justice.
In Nairobi, the day after the announcement of Uhuru’s win, one Kenyan told me, “We are just happy to move past this. It is time for Kenyans to go back to our lives.”
- Flickr, Albert Kenyani Inima
Kenya held its first ever presidential debate on Monday, an historic event.
The eight candidates* gathered in Nairobi to debate the most pressing issues in the first of two televised debates. The young country’s event was everything that the 2012 US presidential debates were not.
Candidates from minority parties with no chance of making a dent on election day stood side by side with the front runners. The event went over its scheduled 2 hours lasting near 3.5 hours when all was said and done.
However, it was not because the candidates were wasting time or talking too much. An efficient tandem of moderators, NTV’s Linus Kaikai and Citizen TV’s Julie Gichuru, moved the conversation along, kept the candidates to their time limits, interrupted them when the question asked was not answered and provided immediate follow-ups when necessary.