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Kenya Politics - 2017 Elections

The country's sixth general elections - presidential, parliamentary, governorship and local elections - were held 08 August 2017. President Uhuru Kenyatta was running again for the August election. Politics in the East African nation is decided largely along ethnic lines, with political alliances typically based on who can lure which votes from Kenya's influential five main ethnic groups. Kenyans would elect a President, 47 County Governors, 47 County Senators, 290 members of the lower house, Women Representatives and Members of County Assemblies.

Public and private spending are at an all-time high, while government and presidential candidates have put in hundreds of millions of dollars to secure the electoral process. Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) extended voting period for regions where heavy rains and flooding made it hard for voters to reach the poll centers in the remote northern region of Turkana.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta has taken a significant lead in Kenya's tense elections, according to early results. Opposition leader Raila Odinga dismissed the tally, claiming that the election had been hacked. The early results published by Kenyan electoral officials showed Odinga trailing his rival, President Kenyatta, by some 1.3 million votes. The tally was based on 92 percent of the polling stations, putting the president at 54.4 percent to Odinga's 44.7 percent. Odinga insisted that he was actually in the lead, according to the count published by his party. He told reporters that hackers broke into the state electronic tallying system by using credentials of a recently murdered electoral official.

Riots broke out in the opposition stronghold of Kisimu in western Kenya on Wednesday, with police firing tear gas at anti-government protesters following the tense Tuesday election. The protesters chanted "No Raila, no peace," invoking the name of the opposition leader Raila Odinga. The unrest started soon after Odinga publically rejected the preliminary election results as a "fraud."

The Kenya Human Rights Commission, a well-known non-governmental organization in the east African country, also criticized the election officials and cited several apparent irregularities from various polling stations. It described some of its actions as "opaque" and said the official tally was "not based on any verifiable results."

Women representation in political life has yet to reach meaningful ratio vis-à-vis their proportion of the nation. Between 1963 and 2013 only 74 women made it to the National Assembly, 49 elected and 25 nominated. When Kenya gained its independence in 1963, the initial parliament did not have a woman. The country saw the very first female Member of Parliament come into office in 1969.

For the first time more than over 10 women were elected at the national assembly in 2002. In 2007 Kenya recorded the highest number, which saw 16 women elected. The 2013 election in Kenya was the first General Election to incorporate elective and nominated affirmative action seats for women. Running up to the 2017 elections in Kenya, there are prospects of having female governors and senators.

enya’s cohesion authority has warned that it will take action against WhatsApp group administrators in its quest to clamp on the spread of hate speech in the messaging application. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) chair Francis Ole Kaparo announced that the authority had identified at least 21 WhatsApp groups that have been propagating hate speech and will be dealt with accordingly.

On 19 December 2016 the Kenyan government ordered the US International Foundation for Election Systems to stop its voter education program in the country. US Ambassador Robert Godec said the organization, which is supported by USAID, has expertise and experience in supporting free, fair, credible and peaceful elections around the world. He said the United States is disappointed by the effort to discredit the program. Ambassadors from 10 countries denied working with organizations, political parties or candidates to influence the election result.

Kenya's Senate on 06 January 2017 approved the controversial Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016 that would allow manual counting of ballot results, which the opposition called a back door to rigging the presidential vote. The 24 senators from the Jubilee side voted for it while 19 CORD senators opposed it. The focus was mainly on section 44, which covers the identification, registration and transmission of results electronically. The opposition coalition, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice Presidents Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, dismissed the Bill as mischievous, saying it was part of a wider scheme to rig the August elections.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) was formed in 2017. It aims to increase opposition chances of defeating President Uhuru Kenyatta. In an attempt to oust the powerful party, five opposition heavyweights united under NASA. They spent months agonizing over the winning combination of flag-bearers that will draw in the most votes from key ethnic groups. The country's ruling Jubilee party said NASA's delayed candidacy selection only highlights its disorganization amid an election campaign plagued by violence. Tensions were high in Kenya's chaotic primary season as the ruling Jubilee party and the opposition ran into logistical issues and allegations of irregularities. The Jubilee planned to hold party primaries in all of Kenya's 47 counties on Friday 21 April 2017 and Monday 24 April 2017. But of the 21 scheduled for Friday, three were postponed. Confusion and accusations then derailed voting in nine more counties, such as Uasin Gishu, home to Deputy President William Ruto. Complications included insufficient materials, flawed ballots and general confusion. As a result, primaries were canceled in 15 of 21 counties.

Political competitors are complaining of a lack voting materials, favoritism and rigging, including reports of pre-marked ballots. There is also disagreement over which voter register — that of the party or that of the national electoral commission — to use during the process.

The largest party, the Orange Democratic Movement, had to reschedule primaries in some constituencies due to late-arriving or incomplete ballot materials. ODM also canceled the results of the governorship primary in Busia county amid allegations of rigging.

Stakes were high in the primaries. In an opposition or a ruling party stronghold, securing the party's nomination for certain posts can be an almost-certain ticket for victory.

The majority of Luos support opposition leader Raila Odinga, the Kambas are behind Kalonzo Musyoka. The Kalenjins back Deputy President William Ruto, while the Kikuyus support President Uhuru Kenyatta.

As in the past, political alliances have been made along ethnic lines. The Jubilee alliance of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto is backed by the Kikuyus and the Kalenjins. The opposition National Alliance (NASA) is no different. It is a union of tribes led by Raila Odinga (a Luo from western Kenya), Moses Wetangula (a Luhya from western Kenya) and Kalonzo Musyoka from the Kamba tribe.

Fronted by Uhuru Kenyata, the current President of Kenya, and Deputy President William Ruto, the Jubilee Party is made up of the principal members of the Jubilee Alliance, as well as 10 other political parties. They launched their manifesto on June 26, listing a number of ways they would hope to change Kenya.

One of the manifesto’s overall messages is to create a “secure and prosperous nation”, built on solid foundations of sustainable employment and opportunity. It notes that a growing economy must work all Kenyan citizens, and says that the party will continue to build a middle-income society, and work towards high, rapid and inclusive economic growth to reduce inequalities.

Through reducing and eliminating wastage in the utilization of public resources, Jubilee say that they will be able to generate Ksh1 trillion in savings over the next five years. This, the manifesto says, will be applied to enhance the country’s productive capacity and pay down the national debt.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is the main opposition party, made up of ODM, Wiper, ANC and many more. They’re fronted by political veteran Raila Odinga, and he is supported by Kalonzo Musyoka who is running for Deputy President. Nasa launched their manifesto on June 27,

highlighting the policies they hope will connect with the public and get them into government. NASA aim to eradicate poverty by implementing “transformational economic policies and programmes that will uplift all Kenyas”. They have outlined in their text that they will invest in education and training, health, and encourage people to move to areas richer in resources.

The manifesto states that Nasa will use all constitutional means to control public debt and grow the economy by 7%. They pledge to return the country to “the path of sustainable borrowing, that is, a budget deficit not exceeding 3% of GDP.

With political tensions running high, it was too early to tell how the August 8 elections might go. Whether Kenya's elections turn deadly violent, like the 2007 vote, or remain mostly peaceful, like the 2013 poll, international monitors will be on the ground to see whether the final outcome is trustworthy and fair. In late June, the EU mission deployed 15 two-person teams around the country to begin monitoring the run-up to the elections. They would be joined by more than 100 short-term observers in the days before the vote. About 20 million Kenyans are registered to vote in the election.

Kenya’s electoral commission announced 111 August 2017 that incumbent Kenyatta had won the presidential contest, defeating Odinga. “Having fulfilled the requirement by law and having garnered 8,203,290 votes, representing 54.27 percent of the votes and 25 percent in 35 counties, I therefore wish to declare honorable Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect and honorable William Ruto as the deputy president-elect,” Election chairman Wafula Chebukati said. Chebukati announced that Odinga garnered 6,762,224 votes, which gave him 44.74 percent of the overall vote. He also received at least 25 percent of the vote in 29 counties.

The leader of Kenya's main opposition party, Raila Odinga, has said he will not let the election result go unchallenged. Kenya's opposition announced on 16 Augsut 2017 that it would challenge the results of the presidential election in the Supreme Court and wage a campaign of civil disobedience, saying it has decided to expose what it called a "computer-generated presidency." Opposition leader Raila Odinga told reporters that Kenyans won't willingly go along with "democracy's slaughter." His comments had the potential to set off another wave of protests. In a 4-2 decision, on 02 September 2017 the Kenya Supreme Court determined that the recently concluded presidential election "was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and … is invalid". The Supreme Court found that the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) simply did not deliver on basic democratic principles of transparency and rule of law that should guide any election. IEBC lawyers shockingly argued that the tallying website on which local and international reporting about the election relied was "not the public portal" that the IEBC promised, and they never told the court what that website was and why it existed. The process of tallying was also problematic because the IEBC seemed to ignore much of the law regulating it.

In practical terms, this meant that Kenyans would have a second presidential election within the next 60 days - expensive in terms of money and time, but worth it for a clear and decisive declaration that democracy in Kenya is maturing. The August 8 vote was a deeply flawed election. Yet assumptions at home and abroad about how democracy is supposed to work in Africa prevented many from seeing that. Critics were accused of being spoilers or "perennial losers". If they pointed out one of the many problems of the electoral process, they were labelled "tribalists", or overly demanding.

Voters in Kenya would head to the polls on October 26 [initally planned to take place on 17 October] after the Supreme Court annulled the presidential election. But politics in Kenya often go hand in hand with ethnic and tribal loyalties. Elections in Kenya have caused heightening and even incitement of these divisions before, especially in poorer communities.

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga said on 10 October 2017 he would not take part in the court-ordered re-run of the presidential vote scheduled to take place on October 26. "In the interest of the people of Kenya, the region and world at large, we believe that all will be best served by (opposition grouping) NASA vacating the presidential candidature of elections slated for 26th of October, 2017," Odinga told a news conference. "We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel... All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one," said Odinga.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the presidential re-run, which was expected to be a run-off between Odinga and himself, would go ahead as scheduled despite his rival's withdrawal. "There is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot," Kenyatta told his supporters. A Kenyan judge then ruled that a minor opposition candidate would be allowed to take part in the repeat election. Ekuru Aukot, who received less than 1 percent of the vote the first time around, may now face off against President Uhuru Kenyatta in the rerun.

Kenya’s electoral commission called for patience and calm as it tallied the results of the re-run presidential election 27 October 2017 . However, some analysts already feared that the low turnout — just 35 percent compared to nearly 80 percent in the previous poll in August — may undercut the credibility of the results. The chief of Kenya's electoral commission says 6.5 million voters, about one-third of all registered voters, cast ballots in the election. Opposition leader Raila Odinga told his supporters to boycott the vote, and some polling stations looked like ghost towns. Others had lines, but significantly shorter than the original August election. Some were closed entirely due to security concerns.

President Kenyatta won 98% of the vote in Kenya's repeat election. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga urges his supporters to protest against what he calls the "sham" result of a repeat presidential election that he boycotted.

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