- The year saw President Kenyatta take his gloves off, engaging the Opposition in verbal duels.
- This saw him being occasionally by some Kenyans that he was forgetting that he was Kenya’s CEO.
Perhaps no year has captured the imagination of Kenyans like 2017 did. A politically charged year, it was one of the tensest Kenyans have ever experienced. As an election year, it began in high political gear as politicians criss-crossed the country wooing voters. And with politics now a well-paying career, the battles for the posts were bruising, with the presidential poll the most hotly contested. It was expected to give Uhuru Kenyatta his final term as president, and also the final chance for Raila Odinga to take a stab at the post. Come August 8 Kenyans turned out in large numbers to vote, braving the bad weather in parts of the country.
However, when the results were announced, Opposition leader Raila rejected them and filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging President Kenyatta’s win. This threw the country into political uncertainty and saw Kenyans follow the petition with great anxiety.
The Supreme Court turned into an arena where political theatrics played out, with lawyers James Orengo, Fred Ngatia, and Paul Muite showing their legal might and Dr Patrick Lumumba providing the much-needed comic relief with his romanticism of the legal jargon.
The Supreme Court nullified the presidential poll results and ordered a repeat presidential election within 60 days. Raila added a twist to the situation when he announced his withdrawal from the election October 10, arguing that the poll was unlikely to be free and fair since no reforms had been made to the electoral process. Nevertheless, the election went on as planned, but saw mass boycotts in perceived Nasa strongholds.
PRESIDENT SHOWS HIS TOUGH SIDE
The year saw President Kenyatta take his gloves off, engaging the Opposition in verbal duels. This saw him being occasionally by some Kenyans that he was forgetting that he was Kenya’s CEO.
And following the nullification of his August 8 victory, President Kenyatta threw at least two barbs at the Supreme Court to express his displeasure: “The good thing about the law is that previously, I was President-elect. Si Maraga na watu yake, hawa wakora hawa amesema ati basi hiyo uchaguzi upotee (But now [Chief Justice] Maraga and his trickster colleagues have said that the election is invalid).” “Mimi tena sio rais mtarajiwa. Sijui kama mnanishika? Maraga ajue ya kwamba sasa ana deal na rais ambaye amekalia kiti. Tumerudi kazini; sasa ni campaign. (I am no longer a president-elect; do you understand? Let [Justice] Maraga know that he is now dealing with a sitting president. We are back to work, we back to campaigning),” he added while addressing supporters at Burma Market in Nairobi.
RAILA ODINGA AND HIS SUPPORTERS
Love him, hate him, Raila Amolo Odinga consistently shaped political discourse in 2017. He kept fellow politicians guessing his next political moves, including those in Nasa. And together with his supporters, the Nasa leader kept the security and journalists busy for a good part of the year.
Right from the August 8 General Election to the 2017 presidential petition, the poll boycott and his unwavering ambition to be sworn in as the people’s president, the former prime minister pulled a number of surprises. While many consider his withdrawal from the repeat presidential poll his biggest undoing, he says he will be sworn in as the people’s president this year. How that works out, only time will tell.
What he did prove, however, is that he has a loyal following, as witnessed on November 17 when he returned from a trip to the US. Police used tear gas, water cannons, and at some point pelted crowds of strong-willed Nasa supporters who had turned out to meet him. The confrontaion left five dead and several others admitted to city hospitals with serious injuries.
Unexpected ruling: Chief Justice David Maraga
On September 1, Chief Justice David Maraga set a precedent when he annulled the August 8 presidential poll. “Elections are not an event but a process. After considering the totality of the entire evidence, we are satisfied that the elections were not conducted in accordance to the dictates of the Constitution and the applicable principles,” he said.
Following the ruling, some people took it upon themselves to rename City Hall Way, which runs in front of the Supreme Court, “Maraga Way”. Some people even of uploaded pictures of the CJ as their online profile pictures.
EZRA CHILOBA: MAN IN THE EYE OF THE STORM
As the polling took place after the August 8 General Election, the IEBC boss, Ezra Chiloba won the hearts of many young Kenyans with his intelligence, wit, looks and the way he explained the poll updates. This earned him the nickname “Chilobae” on social media.
But following the nullification of the presidential poll result, the brilliant political scientist, policy and governance expert was a man under siege as Nasa supporters called for his resignation, referring to him as “Chilobye”. He later took a personal three-week leave.
DR ROSELYN AKOMBE: DISAPPEARING ACT
IEBC Commissioner Roselyn Akombe’s dramatic resignation while on an official trip just a week to the repeat presidential poll put the credibility of the poll agency on the spot.
“The commission, in its current state, can surely not guarantee a credible election on October 26, 2017,” she said.
“It has become increasingly difficult to continue attending plenary meetings where commissioners come ready to vote along partisan lines and not to discuss the merit of issues before them,” she added. “It has become increasingly difficult to appear on television to defend positions I disagree with in the name of collective responsibility.”
TEERIFIC TEACHER: BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY