CORD’s Anti-IEBC Protests: A Reflection on Possible Scenarios
On 4th July 2014, Mr. Martin Ngatia warned Kenyans that as long as the current IEBC Commissioners were in place, they should know that the 2017 election has already been rigged in advance in favour of Jubilee. Last Monday, the CORD Coalition, headed by Raila Odinga, launched the “Occupy IEBC Offices” campaign to force IEBC officials out of office. Attempts to storm IEBC offices ended with Raila Odinga and his lieutenants being tear gassed by the Jubilee police.
It appears as though CORD has finally woken up and realized that the next General Election is just around the corner and that with IEBC Commissioners still in control of the electoral machine, it can be safe to posit that CORD has “lost the election” to Jubilee.
For this week, the campaign has been posed to allow for the national mourning of former First Lady Lucy Kibaki but come next week, CORD has announced that it will resume its campaign until IEBC Commissioners are thrown out of the window.
Most likely, the attempt will be thwarted by police tear-gassing the protestors and the ghastly scenes that played themselves last week on national and International TV screens will, most likely, be duplicated. It is possible that come Tuesday next week, the protesters will not be allowed to get close to the gates of the IEBC in Nairobi and shake it to breaking point once again because the propaganda value (in favour of CORD) of shaking this gate is just too big. Under the circumstances, the protesters will, most likely, be tear-gassed before they reach the IEBC gates, a scenario which, (if it plays itself) will still benefit CORD. How?
Repeated tear-gassing of protesters will work against Jubilee
CORD will benefit because the main objective of the protests will shift from retiring IEBC Commissioners to questioning the right to free Assembly which is enshrined in the New Constitution. CORD’s leadership will seize on the opportunity to further portray Jubilee as a corrupt gang of thieves seeking to rig another election using election thieves posing as IEBC Commissioners while at the same time violating the Constitution by denying citizens the right to free Assembly. The protests are scheduled weekly and the constant sight of Kenyans being tear-gassed every time they try to protest against IEBC Commissioners will put Uhuru Kenyatta’s limping regime in a very awkward situation.
For Jubilee hawks, the current IEBC as constituted, is the ultimate short cut back to State House in 2017, a transparent expectation that CORD’s big-wigs have finally seen through. The chronic headache Uhuru will have to deal with is that if the protests persist with protracted running street battles (complete with tear gas and live bullets), the political situation in Kenya will deteriorate even further and begin to capture International attention on a much wider scale.
Calls by foreign governments and Human Rights organizations for Uhuruto regime to: adherence to the rule of law; respect human rights and respect the Kenyan Constitution will begin to echo in local and International media. In fact, Kenyans should not be surprised if foreign governments start advising their citizens not to travel to Kenya because of “insecurity”. Kenya is of very strategic significance to numerous imperialist agencies and as the Jubilee government comes under pressure to stop authoritarianism and iron fistedness in handling political differences with the Opposition, CORD will find more petrol with which to fuel the fire.
Can the protests degenerate into total chaos?
In constant street battles of the type being pontificated here, it is inevitable that serious injuries on protestors inflicted by marauding security forces will begin to surface. With Kenya’s security forces having a long history of “trigger happiness” in times of crisis especially during street battles, it will just be a matter of time before lives begin to be lost as a result of a seemingly legitimate political campaign pegged on ensuring that the 2017 elections is free and fair.
If CORD is serious and the protests begin to gain real momentum, police brutality against the protesters in the streets will begin to increase political tension across the country especially in urban areas. The biggest risk is that normal daily business may be disrupted with workers finding it more and more difficult to go to work. Unpresented tension and tough talk by both Government and Opposition has, in the past, driven Kenya to a total standstill. A case in point is the 2014 Saba Saba anniversary when political temperatures rose to boiling point after Raila Odinga said that Uhuru Kenyatta “will be shaved without a razorblade” because the donkey (aka mwananchi) was just too tired. Luckily, the event ended peacefully but not before the Okoa Kenya Movement was established.
At that time, Raila and company were not under any physical attack by Uhuruto government. The difference this time is that CORD has called for national protests after the leadership and supporters alike were thoroughly tear-gassed. They are returning with wounded egos and unlike last time when they openly controlled their supporters, this time the Opposition leaders may decide to act with abandon by refusing to restrain their supporters in the face of fresh tear-gassing and attacks by riot police. This kind of scenario is what might explode into real chaos that might become impossible for security forces to contain if the explosion happens on a national scale. The situation is not made any better by millions of CORD supporters across the country already bracing for battle on the ground and war-mongering endlessly on Social Media.
Today, the only Kenyans who believe that the 2013 election was not stolen by IEBC are Jubilee sycophants. Tough as it may seem, it is to the advantage of Jubilee that the thorny issue of disbanding IEBC is addressed to prevent the matter from growing into a Frankenstein that may return to swallow Uhuruto government before the 2017 elections. This is how I see it.