Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has a playbook he turns to when he loses an election. He calls supporters onto the streets until he’s given a share of power.
By Antony Sguazzin
This week was no different but it’s unclear whether President William Ruto will yield.
The March 20 protests led to one death and the closing of shops and schools. By piggybacking his demand for the 2022 election loss to Ruto to be overturned with discontent over the cost of living, he ensured a turnout.
His election demand is unlikely to be met. The 78-year-old has run for president five times and lost five times. A Supreme Court that’s proved its independence before by nullifying an election result dismissed his petition.
Odinga’s backers including former justice minister and 2022 running mate, Martha Karua, insist they won and want an audit to try and prove
Now, Odinga says, protests will be held every Monday and Thursday until he gets his way.
There are precedents.
Violence after the disputed 2007 election forced then-President Mwai Kibaki to appoint Odinga as prime minister and in 2018 the threat of a
redux of that disruption saw President Uhuru Kenyatta extend to him an olive branch.
Odinga’s actions “show that there isn’t really respect for the election process,” said Zaynab Mohamed, an analyst at Oxford Economics Africa.
His tactics risk unraveling the progress Kenya has made, she added.
In 2018, the Supreme Court overturned Kenyatta’s victory and ordered a rerun and last year’s vote was less divided along ethnic lines than previously. That’s a far cry from the violence in the 2007 election that saw more than 1,500 killed and 300,000 made homeless and two decades of
repression under Daniel Arap Moi, whose cabinet Odinga once joined.
There’s little appetite to return to those days.