1 (a) SUMMARY: The decision by Raila Odinga to reject results which show him to have been comprehensively defeated by President Kenyatta sets the stage for several days of tension, protests and drama. However, the scale of the defeat and the united international support for the IEBC process, means that the crisis will not be prolonged.
Odinga pressured by Western envoys but defiant
b) On Wednesday morning and again in the evening, John Kerry and Thabo Mbeki spoke to Raila Odinga at length, urging him to concede. It was thought that the two might have had greater leverage over him because Odinga says that John Mahama of Ghana is too close to Kenyatta and cannot be a neutral interlocutor. Odinga also came under very strong pressure from American ambassador Bob Godec in particular. Godec’s pressure is what led Odinga to delay his press conference for five hours on Thursday but in the end he was defiant and went ahead.
On Wednesday, when Kerry made no progress in urging Odinga to concede, he asked Godec to coordinate all observer missions, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the African Union, the National Democratic Institute and the East African Community to release statements on Thursday morning declaring the process transparent, free, fair and credible. This was designed as a pressure tactic against Odinga. However, the pressure failed and Odinga refused to buckle. European Union ambassadors together with the U.S. envoy will now meet tomorrow informally and they are discussing options including the possibility of a travel ban on opposition leaders that trigger chaos.
Odinga’s game plan
c) Raila Odinga is taking the gamble that he can spark protests, draw in international mediation and seek a deal with the government.
That plan will fail for two reasons (a) the scale of his defeat and the loss of all houses of parliament and a clear majority of county governorships means that his challenge to the outcome looks ridiculous. b) Unlike 2007 when Odinga had a lot of diplomatic support, he is now isolated. Also, in 2007, protests were broad-based with the Kalenjin and the Luhya and also some at the Coast joining Luo protesters. This time, due again to the scale of the defeat, only the Luo will engage in protests.
d) Despite all these reasons, the capacity of Odinga to cause disruption should not be under-estimated. After the Musalia Mudavadi claim that Odinga won, there were more than 3,000 residents of Kondele on the streets of Kisumu “celebrating” victory.
There are some in the Odinga camp advocating that he should go the “Gambia way” and get himself sworn in tomorrow. That will be a dangerous escalation because it will present the government with unpleasant choices including whether to detain him, which might feed further escalation similar to the disruptive “IEBC protests” in mid-2016.
Still, the geographical scale of the protests will be largely contained. It will be in Kisumu and low-income settlements of Nairobi. Also, Odinga will come under intense diplomatic pressure. Unfortunately, though, at 72 and in fading health, Odinga has made the calculation that he has nothing to lose and should continue agitating.
e) An electoral commission source indicated that they have made good progress in examining Form 34As and Form 34B. By lunch time, they had done 100 out of 290 constituency returns. They have also commendably uploaded all the scanned forms online and 300,000 Kenyans have already downloaded them.
A commission source said they would have essentially completed 95 per cent of forms by 9pm on Thursday but will not announce results at night. They are expected to do so by lunch time tomorrow.
Advance presidential security teams were seen at Bomas on Thursday, suggesting results will be declared Friday. (In a further sign of the disorganisation of Nasa, when their agents demanded to verify scanned forms, they had to get them printed physically. By contrast, Jubilee presidential agents had a software for sampling, downloading and comparing forms which was far quicker and they declared themselves happy)
f) SUMMARY: In general, the clear win by Kenyatta reduces the risk of a protracted crisis. However, when results are announced tomorrow, there will be protests in Kisumu and other urban areas. The scale of the victory, though, means there will not be a protracted crisis.