Accept and move on, election is over

DP Ruto supporters celebrate his win

The most important thing for every citizen now is to accept that there is a government elected by the people and confirmed by the highest court in the land, their duty is to fall in line, give it their total support.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

This election season is finished. There are no pending appeals, no repeats, no reruns; it is over. If there are any unanswered questions, there are no more avenues to ask them and we leave them to investigative journalists, historians and social debate.

The season has ended in heartbreak for veteran politician Raila Odinga, 77, whose presidential dream is almost certainly coming to an end, and celebrations and dancing in the street for Deputy President William Ruto, 55, whose tenancy at State House is likely to be an extended one, if he wins a new, final term, in 2027.

The way democracy works is that everybody gets a fair chance to exercise their choice. In exchange you commit to accept the pick of the majority. So the winner is not the one you like, or the best of us, or the worst of us, or the most of us, it is the choice of the majority. And the majority have picked Mr Ruto and in fairness it is a deserved victory: he worked hard on the trail, he had a well-organised campaign, he had crisp messaging and good branding, he was well organised and paid attention to detail, such as building a coalition of quiet support in the region and beyond. South African firebrand Julius Malema sent him a somewhat congratulatory message, no less.


And he was tested. He did not have the support of President Kenyatta, his mandate, which is somewhat thin, needed talking up, and he went all the way to the Supreme Court where he and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission faced a coalition of petitioners. The court decision yesterday was not so much a repudiation of the petitions as a complete wash-out: the court denied the petitioners’ prayers in all nine areas of dispute.

Mr Odinga, to his credit, also ran a credible campaign and assembled a strong national coalition, he withstood Mr Ruto’s determined assault on his strongholds and had reasonable stamina on the campaign trail and produced an impressive map in the final analysis. Strangely, Mr Odinga may have paid the price of incumbency but it will still have to be debated whether President Kenyatta’s support counted for that much. First, the Kenyatta brand is not quite wholesome in the Mt Kenya region and voters there might have punished Mr Odinga for his association with the President.

Government bureaucracy

Secondly, while the President expressed support for Mr Odinga, it is not certain that the government bureaucracy got the memo. The rank and file at the IEBC, from anecdotal reporting, were quite supportive of Mr Ruto, perhaps because they identified with certain members of the Ruto campaign with whom they had worked at the commission. This was Mr Odinga’s best chance so far, but he was still largely fighting with the same army he has been with the last two elections.

At the Supreme Court, the judges used words such as “perjury”, “loss of trust”, “hot air”, “red herring” and “wild goose chase” to describe parts of Mr Odinga’s petition, icily pointing out his lawyers had failed certain basic points of legal practice. For the petitioners, the outcome was a disaster, a loss from which there was no recovery.

Mr Ruto has won in our first-past-the-post, winner-take-all political system. The powers of presidency are, if not unfettered, then very lightly fettered. It is within his power to choose to govern as a politician, giving all his attention to those who put him in power and punishing those who didn’t. Or he can choose to unite and lead a strong nation. He certainly has the ruthless focus and experience to co-opt and subjugate parliament and other institutions of State and Kenyans can only wait and see whether he will govern the politician within.

The most important thing for every citizen now is to accept that there is a government elected by the people and confirmed by the highest court in the land, their duty is to fall in line, give it their total support, move to their various day-to-day activities and take a break from active politicking until the next election.

Mr Mutuma is the Nation Media Group Editor-in-Chief