Kenyans are confused and worried because of the looming constitutional crisis

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The following is an opinion that was first published on Daily Nation by Magesha Ngwiri 

When a lady who sells grocery in the market asks you whether the fresh presidential election is still on and you fumble for an answer, you realise that this country is in deep trouble.

Kenyans are being buffeted daily with demands meant to scuttle the repeat election scheduled for Thursday next week. But one thing is certain: Jubilee is not about to curl its tail to give way to a caretaker government, which is why it won’t shelve plans for the election.

Nor will Nasa “go gentle into that good night”; indeed, it will do everything possible to de-legitimise the almost certain re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

When its leaders keep saying that Nasa will not boycott the election but there will be no election on October 26, an extremely baffling play with words, what could they possibly mean? And why is nobody worried enough to ask this hard question?

CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

What is surprising is that very few seem to have seen this thing coming. If a fresh presidential election is not held on October 26, there will be a constitutional crisis. And if it is held at all, as many lawyers aver, there will be a crisis of legitimacy because more than a third of the registered voters have been told not to participate, and they will not allow others to do so.

This will inevitably lead to violence and if carnage and destruction escalate, international intervention will, again, become inevitable.

This is a very weighty issue, and since nobody can be sure that there will be a legal entity known as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission in the next five days — after the sudden resignation of Dr Roselyn Akombe, there are fears that its chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati will be next, goaded beyond endurance — there is no guarantee that a Jubilee victory will not turn out to be pyrrhic.

Mr Chebukati is being advised to follow Dr Akombe into ignominy as a man who chaired an important institution but could not stand the heat.

DEEP CONFUSION

He must resist that self-serving advice by people who have already ruled themselves out of the game. It would not be helpful to Kenyans who are already in a state of deep confusion, and it could bring this country to ruin.

This, by the way, is hardly the time to apportion blame; with five days left to the fresh election, we have run out of time.

This is because all the players have been stubborn, cantankerous, partisan, capricious and deeply polarising. Among the obvious villains is the IEBC, which allowed itself to be captured by the political class and is now clearly unable to extricate itself from the quagmire.

Right now, it is quite difficult to know what to expect because the situation remains very fluid. Those calling for dialogue between Mr Raila Odinga and President Kenyatta to resolve the impasse have a point, but the President is highly suspicious of Mr Odinga’s agenda. Since practically every day there has been a reiteration of demands, one can understand the skepticism.

On his part, the President should ignore Jubilee hardliners and seek some form of accommodation with Mr Odinga, if only to forestall violence.

LOSS OF LIFE

The Constitution of Kenya 2010, which was widely hailed as a progressive document, has proved to be grossly inadequate to address many of the emerging issues.

It is very painful to hear that a person has lost his or her life due to politics, but it is happening with disquieting regularity these days.

One thing is clear though; we would not have come to this pass if the two most important political leaders had exercised restraint in their utterances during the campaign for the August 8 elections.

Even up to this late hour, Kenyans could find a way to tolerate each other, but they require extremely astute leadership.

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To matters non-political: Due to the heightened tensions, we seem to have forgotten that in the next one month, millions of primary school pupils and secondary school students will be doing their national examinations which will determine their future. In normal circumstances, this is usually the highlight of the year, but this time round, people may not care.

Could we all agree to let our children sit their exams in relative peace? Already, a huge number feel the political heat that has gripped almost everyone and their performance may be negatively affected.

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