What exactly does Raila gain whenever he issues the empty threats to boycott election?

It is said that IEBC has already done one illegality and one irregularity. The illegality is the decision IEBC made to the effect that only Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga and their respective running mates will be the only candidates in the rerun election, and the irregularity is the IEBC decision to announce October 17, 2017 as the date for the rerun election without consulting NASA Coalition. Given the alleged illegality and irregularity, Raila Odinga has threatened to boycott election. “We are not ready to participate in elections with the same people who messed us up. It is akin to leaving your sheep to be watched over by hyenas,”, said Raila in a presser.

It is not the first time Raila Odinga is threatening to boycott election. Several times during the May-August 2017 campaigns, Raila Odinga issued several threats the most remarkable one being the threat issued when IEBC filed an appeal against a High Court ruling that presidential results announced at constituency tallying centres are final. Following the appeal, Raila Odinga and his co-principals said that they would “not allow IEBC to tamper with the court ruling on the tallying issues.” If IEBC were to tamper with the High Court ruling, no elections could have been held. The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court ruling so this threat to boycott election on August 8th wasn’t followed through.

The threat to boycott election during the May-August campaigns was not limited to the appeal case, NASA had also threatened not to participate in an election where election materials including ballot papers were printed by the Dubai firm Al Ghurair. On June 20, IEBC would say that they had no plans to cancel the tender awarded to Al Ghurair. IEBC also told NASA that they were free to boycott election. This case went to court and decided hardly a week to the election where the Court of Appeal upheld the tender as was awarded to Al Ghurair. Al Ghurair went ahead to print the ballot papers, but NASA did not live up to their threats.

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The fact that NASA did not boycott election on the grounds that Al Ghurair had printed the ballot papers means that their constant threats to boycott election are nothing but hollow, bootless and asinine. Since NASA cannot actually boycott election, one wonders why the coalition would stick to this toothless worthless strategy as a means to gain political points. Who are they scoring against?

Indeed if NASA was to live to their threats and boycott election, there would be nothing lost as far as Kenya’s Constitution is concerned. Actually such a boycott would make Jubilee’s work easier as they wouldn’t need to spend any energy and resources in the campaigns and voter bribery. Constitutionally, Article 138 of the Constitution in subarticle 1 provides that “If only one candidate for President is nominated, that candidate shall be declared elected”, so our constitution doesn’t require that there must be more than one candidate to run for the office of the Presidency.

In Kenya therefore, the only scenario where the country may find itself in a constitutional crisis is when after a President has served his term(s) no one is nominated to run for presidency. There are however countries where threats to boycott election would create constitutional crisis. Such countries are those where it is mandatory for every registered voter to vote, and those that have a minimum turnout number for the election to be deemed legit. Neither of the two scenarios is applicable to Kenya.

The question remains, what benefits does Raila Odinga gain by his continued empty threats to boycott election?

Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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