Kenya’s Bourgeoisie Media Picks Up “Stolen Presidency”
DAILY NATION SATURDAY MARCH 21 2009
By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA Posted Friday, March 20 2009 at 20:22
So it is impossible to know who won Kenya’s 2007 presidential election? Not true, according to a new book published in Sweden that could rekindle debate on who exactly deserves to be president of Kenya. In his book, Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency: Consequences and the Future of Kenya, Okoth Osewe claims the Independent Review Commission (IREC) on the 2007 elections shielded the truth from Kenyans by saying it was impossible to know who won.
The book claims the Orange Democratic Movement’s Raila Odinga beat the Party of National Unity’s Mwai Kibaki by 246,987 votes.
Kenyan civil society groups have in the past dismissed IREC’s findings for not going far enough in the search for electoral truth but Osewe’s book is the first bold challenge to the verdict.
“Out of the 210 constituencies,” writes Osewe, “available documentary evidence indicates that ECK did a superb job in at least 161 constituencies in which results announced at the constituency level and certified by agents of political parties tallies (sic) with results announced by ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) at KICC (Kenyatta International Conference Centre).”
Although the author, a 44-year-old veterinarian and activist blogger, did not reproduce copies of the results in the 464-page book, he says he tracked down the records at the constituency level to compare them with those used by the ECK at the national tallying centre at the KICC.
“I obtained records of election results at the constituency level, records bearing the altered results (some altered by hand after they were received from the constituency) and records announced by ECK at KICC,” Osewe wrote in an e-mail to the Saturday Nation.
Despite the anomalies in the results records, which IREC readily acknowledged, Osewe says he went over the paperwork and found that the tally for the undisputed 161 constituencies put Mr Odinga in the lead with 3,734,972 against Mr Kibaki’s 2,269,612.
An examination of the election results documents from the 47 constituencies, whose outcomes ODM contested, the book adds, reveals that ECK officials at the national tallying centre wrongfully awarded 471,063 votes to Mr Kibaki.
The tally at the KICC also allegedly denied Mr Odinga 2,772 votes, which officials subsequently added to the PNU candidate’s total. Tallies excluded results from Makadara and Kamukunji constituencies because of irregularities.
Springing from IREC’s analysis of the results from 10 constituencies, which showed that Mr Kibaki received an erroneous 180,750 votes, the author takes the common sense approach. He examines outcomes from the remaining 37 disputed constituencies and concludes that the President received another 290,313 undeserved votes.
Mr Osewe criticises IREC’s decision to investigate the results of 19 constituencies, of which only 10 were disputed instead of investigating all the 47. It found that the documents were missing, unsigned as required by law or had wrong arithmetic.
The ECK announced that Mr Kibaki had won the election by 4,584,721 votes against Mr Odinga’s 4,352,993. The book claims this “blatant theft” was allowed to occur because Mr Odinga had made a tactical error by signing a memorandum of understanding with Kenyan Muslims.
He was thus viewed, according to the book, by Americans as inimical to their interests, hence the haste with which the United States Government sent a message of congratulations to Mr Kibaki before quickly retracting it.
Raila Odinga’s Stolen Presidency, which has 24 chapters, is as vociferous as it is polemical. It claims that the manipulation of the election results by the ECK officials was the last desperate effort to prevent Mr Odinga, now Prime Minister in the grand coalition Government, from ascending to the presidency.
Entrenched forces opposed to Mr Odinga’s ascendancy to power, claims the book, unsuccessfully tried to turn him into a bogeyman with greed for power, communism and failure to be circumcised.
Secondly, these forces allegedly attempted to create a split in the Orange Democratic Movement party of Kenya, on whose ticket Mr Kalonzo Musyoka contested for the presidency. The book asks whether Mr Musyoka was working for the Kibaki presidential campaign all along as he wrested control of ODM-Kenya from Mr Odinga ahead of the election.
His conduct at election time and after, and the alacrity with which he entered a coalition with President Kibaki are pointed out as telling.
The third scheme to scuttle Mr Odinga’s journey to State House, claims the writer, was by preventing him from being elected a member of Parliament for Lang’ata constituency. For a candidate to be elected president, he or she must be an elected MP.
When all these schemes fell through, claims Osewe, it became necessary to play the last card – use the ECK to manipulate the result.
Mr Odinga and his party have publicly insisted that they won the election but had to accede to power sharing as a way of ensuring peace.
The book is likely to readily face criticism for its lack of rigour. Critics will capitalise on the opacity of the methods the author used to study his subject, and the apparent lack of peer refereeing and editorial review to tear down his work.
The factual and typographical errors in the book, perhaps resulting from a lack of intimate familiarity with the subject, detract severely from the authority of the work.
Matters are not helped much by the fact that the publisher, iVisby AB, does not appear to be well-known, let alone respected for publishing in English. The writer uses political epithets that could easily annoy people who do not share his persuasion.
Osewe’s background as an investigator is not apparent – from the public record and the book.