Having been sworn in as the new president Mwai Kibaki now has access to constitutional means to defend his presidency which puts Raila and those who see his election as fraudulent in a fix. The police have been quick to ban all rallies which has created so much tension given that the oppossition led by Raila are planning to march tomorrow to statehouse. It is no longer a question of numbers, no one doubts the ability of Raila to mobilze 1million Kenyans for the march to statehouse, the question is what will be the cost of such action.
If people heed Raila's call (which most certainly) and come out into the streets tomorrow we are headed for more bloodshed and chaos, while that might achieve something for Raila's claim to presidency it will cause unneccessary suffering to the Kenyan community. But what other options are there for Raila? Is he to take a backbench and wait for another 5years to run for presidency? Is there a possibility that with a majority of MP he could hold the government more accountable as the oppossition? What would happen if he called for a countrywide boycott?
Elections are about timming and it would appear that Raila sees this as his best chance since ODM was running on the popularity gained during the 2005 referendum, ODM as an entity is not immune to disintergration and as such the longer Raila has to wait the harder it will be for him to marshal a popular party to win the elections with. On the other hand he would still be popular much so because Kibaki will not be vying(unless he changes the constitution).
The other option is for Raila and all ODM MP to keep the government accountable for the next 5 Years which will result in better governance and credibility for ODM and a definate win in 2012.
Kenyan protest as witnessed now and in the past end up in ugly confrontations and it is unwise for Raila to call on people to converge at Uhuru Park for a rally when clearly the police are out to disrupt it. It would be acceptable if Raila and indeed the other eleceted leaders sought other forms of mass action. They could start a hunger strike and demand that an inquiry be held, they could ask their supporters to stay at home and not report to work to force the government to recount the votes. This actions will put pressure on the government without neccessarily creating room for escalation to violence.
Given Raila and other leaders stature it is possible that while they might face the same violence from the police during the march chances are that the police will be trying hard not to hurt them personally as that will create more uproar;the countless citizens will be at the recieving end. Already there are reports of massive internal displacement of people which indicates that the electoral violence is taking a turn into tribal clashes.
While peace and justice go hand in hand we must seek ways to make peace while we fight for justice. My heartfelt condoloscence to the families that have lost loved ones. Why must we travel down this road? How many more have to perish before we can rethink?
As a Kenyan in the diaspora it is disheartening to see imamges of fellow Kenyans being killed, tortured and displaced, reminds me of how volitile politics in my motherland can be.
Lets act but without violence.