As Kenya was counting votes the weekend after the presidential election, seven-time formula one champion Lewis Hamilton visited for the holidays. I love watching F1. However, unlike many Kenyans, my favorite team is not Hamilton’s Mercedes but the Scuderia Ferrari (or Scuds, as I call it).
I have to admit that starting for a team that, unlike Hamilton, hasn’t won anything since 2008, has had its consequences. Every season, it’s the same to start with great hope and confidence before the sinking feeling of “oh-no-no” begins as the season goes on and the team almost always succeeds. . Year after year, we fans are left to wound our hearts and then start it all over again.
Root for Kenya is also a similarly unpleasant pursuit. It is a country that, like the Scuds, has a lot of potential but always seems intent on self-destruction. Go to the presidential election. On Monday, the Independent Elections and Boundary Commission (IEBC), which administers the vote, announced Vice President William Ruto as the winner of the election, far ahead of the aspirant Raila Odinga. longtime president. However, with many IEBC commissioners refusing to certify the results, Ruto’s proclamation as president-elect came in an atmosphere of tension and sparked some protests in the deserted streets of the city. capital. Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja coalition is likely to go to court to challenge the outcome.
This election began with such a promise. From the unprecedented transparency demonstrated by IEBC to independent articles run by local and international media, this is like Kenya’s coming of age vote, a vote voting would represent another leap on the road to finally quelling the horrors of past elections. But as the election unfolded, confidence turned to insecurity: oh no, not anymore! The amount of media disappearing from TV screens, and in contrast to previous elections, all attention was focused on the official vote counting that took place at freezing speed at election headquarters in New York. Bombas of Kenya in Nairobi, where politicians get involved, cause chaos and turmoil.
Kenyans have always been wary of elections. They carry with them fears of existential political trouble, which will multiply exponentially as the counting of votes drags on. People stocked up on essentials like food, schools and businesses closed, and people started migrating to areas where they felt safer among their relatives and loved ones. In fact, since its independence in 1963, the country has never been able to sustain a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 5% or more over a 5-year period – a period of time. between elections.
Presidential elections, since the return of multiparty politics in 1992, have been the main focus of much of this anxiety. It’s not hard to understand the reason for that. The presidency continues to be considered the ultimate award in elections. Furthermore, elections for office have historically been either completely stolen or disrupted by major irregularities and are often not accompanied by generous aid of violence. Add to that the historical amnesia much of the country suffers from, which means problems are allowed to leave for years as a parasitic elite infiltrate the public’s resources, and you have a very flammable mixture of ambition, resentment, and resentment.
However, much progress has been made in improving some of the problems that have led to trouble. Two important problems are the slow and risky distribution of political power throughout the system rather than the concentration of power in the presidency; and the emergence of an independent and assertive judiciary as a credible arbitrator in electoral disputes. The Supreme Court’s annulment of the 2017 election history is an example.
This election has many upsides, including a growing number of women elected and an unprecedented storm of concessions due to the loss of candidates in the lower races even before the results are official. to be announced. Initially, it was like moving a needle to eliminate electoral inequality. Many have supported IEBC to achieve what the judiciary had five years earlier. But with claims of fraud once again appearing and transparency in question, things don’t look as promising. That familiar sinking feeling crept in again. Once again, the air was thick with calls for peace.
But I’m not ready to give up Kenya yet. If, despite all these problems, the IEBC is proven to have run a credible election and the media serves as a reliable check on the official narratives , the country can still emerge with a stronger set of institutions, better placed to face the future.
Now, if only I could say the same about the Scuds.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.