BusinessDay

Is Ruto the 5th?

Momentum. The leap from William Ruto, deputy president of the Republic, to William Ruto, president-elect of the Republic, is huge. If you have any doubt about this, all you need to do is check out the number of politicians that have already started to change sides since Mr Ruto’s provisional win.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) with seven members of parliament has already ditched the Raila camp for Ruto’s, for instance. More will weigh their options similarly in the weeks ahead. This is because most of the post-election analysis will increasingly point to Ruto being eventually sworn-in as president.

Bear in mind, the issue in contention is simply that the last stage of the election process, that is, the verification of votes by the IEBC, was opaque. Wafula Chekubati, the IEBC chair, is being accused by four commissioners of the 7-member IEBC leadership of not following due-process and being opaque about the verification exercise.

In an expected petition on or before August 22nd before the Supreme Court by Raila, there are two to three possible outcomes. A recount could be ordered, with the final process following the spirit and letter of the constitution on accountability and transparency. Alternatively, the learned justices could call for a rerun. Either way, Mr Ruto could prevail.

Accounts of what transpired behind closed doors, in Mr Chekubati’s account, at least, suggest the four dissenting commissioners wanted the results moderated to force a rerun, which is evidence enough that Ruto was ahead in the count.

Bear in mind, the four dissenting commissioners are Kenyatta appointees to an IEBC that had been running with only 3 commissioners for a relatively very long time hitherto.

There is an ongoing debate about the practical options before the Supreme Court. Some argue a recount is not within its orders, as there is an explicit section in the bouquet of laws that strictly asks for a rerun in the event that the first-round process is determined to be flawed.

But there is also another section which legal experts have been referring to that explicitly states that an electoral court can order a recount and declare a different winner if the tally shows that to be the case.

The establishment or “deep state” like Kenyans like to call the elite in power at any point in time, prefers a recount, it is believed. But this may yet not yield the outcome they are believed to desire.

What is inevitable is that the Supreme Court will find the process was fundamentally flawed owing to the disavowal of the last stage of the process by a majority of IEBC commissioners.

But the Supreme Court might elect to rely on the comments of the dissenting commissioners themselves that the process was robust and adequate up until the last step in the process: the verification.

Read also: How technology helped in Kenyan poll – Citizens

A re-verification and recount seem the more plausible decision. And there is probably also going to be a rising fear in establishment quarters that a rerun might result in a Ruto landslide, which will be even more embarassing.

This is not without basis. Post-election reporting has since revealed that Kikuyus, Uhuru Kenyatta’s kinsmen, voted massively for Ruto out of angst owing to Mr Kenyatta’s neglect.

There is also a belief that Uhuru ought to keep his word with Ruto, having pledged to return the favour when it was his turn to run for the highest office in the land. It is probable that not having a Kikuyu on the presidential ballot made the decision easy for the president’s tribal community regardless. So I wouldn’t be too quick to declare a post-ethnicism in Kenyan politics just yet.

The post-election report by the Financial Times on August 19th titled “William Ruto’s poll victory signals shift from Kenya’s political dynasties” is perhaps the most insightful I read about how and why Mr Ruto won.

In fact, Kikuyu commentators in the article not only gave out their names and addresses, but also their pictures, with their quotes verbatim on why they ditched Uhuru and his choice this time around, vowing to come out even more en masse in the event of a rerun.

Even so, it is important that the election be challenged in the courts to correct what was clearly an error on Mr Chekubati’s part.

Whether the intentions of the dissenting commissioners were malicious or not, the chair had the responsibility of ensuring they were fully involved in the verification process leading to the certification of the results. Anything short of that is a stain on the process.