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Withdrawal: Is Raila conceding defeat?

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The last couple of weeks since the September 1 historic ruling that saw the Supreme Court nullify the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta, the political atmosphere has been marred by anxiety and constitutional confusion precipitated NASA coalition.

As much as it was an immediate political gain for the coalition party, the decision that showcased the judiciary’s independence also initiated the gradual fall of the opposition chief. While the son of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga possesses such a significant political charm that by now, he should have become a president, the prominent leader of the opposition politics in Kenya and the political spokesman of the Luo nation, continues to remain an outcast peaking into State House.

The political misfortune tormenting ‘baba’ – as  his supporters popularly refer him – can  only be equated to a family curse. His father, the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, the father of opposition politics in Kenya, made several attempts from the time of KANU in the 1960s, during the formation of the Kenya People’s Union (KPU) in 1966, when he formed FORD, the first major opposition party till during the division of FORD to FORD-Asili and FORD-Kenya, a division that led to his defeat and that of the opposition loss during the December 1992 General Election.

Having lost his best bet in 2007, Odinga’s zeal to soldier on for the fourth time, saw him get political rejection in the August 2017 election, making history too as the only candidate who, despite the intense political-labor, has never won a presidential election after four attempts in Africa.

Realiation that he (Raila) will never ascend the presidency ladder and him being at his weakest link, has made him develop withdrawal strategies that can only be interpreted as to the son of Jaramogi conceding defeat. His withdraw from the fresh election as slated by the Supreme Court, two weeks to the election day can only be said to be an early acceptance of defeat. The son of Jaramogi has realized and acknowledged the hard fact that there is no chance of him gaining victory through the ballot. Instead, Raila and his other NASA principals are developing mechanisms that are intended to either force a coalition government or force a caretaker government.

Stronghold Intrusion

Also coercing Odinga to concede defeat is the serious intrusion that Jubilee party has made into what was purely considered NASA’s stronghold, which has reduced the percentage margins of the opposition getting 100 percent support. Defection of NASA’s point men in their strongholds like former Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka, who in the just concluded August 8th elections delivered 30 percent of the votes to President Kenyatta, the highest that any candidate outside the opposition party has ever received, is causing jitters to Mr. Odinga. Eugene Wamalwa’s factor in Trans-Nzoia, has also contributed to Raila’s downfall while Jubilee has been gaining grounds.

In addition, defection of former ODM Secretary General and now Labor Party leader Ababu Namwamba, has also contributed to Raila’s political downfall. Also significant in contributing towards Raila’s conceding defeat is the defection of former Mombasa Senator Hasaan Omar and the support of Nyali Member of Parliament Mohammed Ali, whom have split the coast region vote, not to mention basket of development goodies that the president has delivered and promised the people of the Coast region.

While Raila Odinga has been losing all his party’s key point men, Uhuru Kenyatta has been gaining, which translates to landslide victory for Jubilee. Numbers too have failed the son of Jaramogi as previous runs by Mr. Odinga has not secured him neither a majority vote nor the 50+1 threshold required to make him the Head of State and Government.

READ: Raila’s speech: We need the help of our friends

Young and energetic politicians who do not share in Raila’s political ideologies, which more often than not favor social democracy, have also made Raila’s political life a living hell, therefore reducing his chances of ever rising to power.  These include leaders in his stronghold who do not advocate for his dictatorial tendencies in the Luo nation and in his Orange Democratic movement (ODM) party. Case in point, the selective role that he plays during party nominations of candidates, from Governors to MCA’s, on an ODM ticket has been questionable.

Never conceded defeat

The 2017 election petition scenario by Odinga is not a new strategy but rather a continuation of an old habit that now stands a chance of dying. Despite all pollsters, both international and national, over the years showing a zero possibility of a Raila win, the opposition chief has never conceded electoral defeat, in the history of Kenya elections.

Instead, he always alleges that election results are rigged thus leading his supporters to the streets to protest the results. Having lost to former President Daniel Arap Moi in 1997 and Mwai Kibaki 2007, Odinga’s protest that he has been rigged out and rejection of the outcome of the General Election saw the country plunge into its worst political crisis in 2007/08.

In 2013, Mr Odinga also rejected President Kenyatta’s win and petitioned the outcome of the election.

Despite the unanimous ruling authenticating Kenyatta’s win, Raila Odinga still rejected the ruling of the Supreme Court. The same rigging trend was repeated in the just concluded August elections where the NASA flag bearer referred to the electoral process as “sham and fraudulent”, therefore rejecting the results and not conceding defeat.

2017 was therefore no different from the previous trends, as two months after the Election Day; Kenya is still witnessing violent protest orchestrated by NASA leaders in the opposition strongholds.

No Supreme Court route again

Also contributing to Raila Odinga strategy to indirectly concede defeat by withdrawing from the race is the realisation that he might have exhausted his chances of going back to the Supreme Court with a petition.

And in the event that he does, the possibilities of the court asking him to concede defeat is high. Odinga also fears that in the event that he takes yet another petition to the most high court in the land, the likelihood of the ruling being made against him are not farfetched, and the likelihood of the court asking him to concede defeat since President Uhuru Kenyatta accepted court’s ruling remains high as well.

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Janelynn Njuki is an Advisor on Governance and Security at Africa Policy Institute
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