GNA – Mr John Mahama Ghana’s former President has commended Kenyans for the manner in which they negotiated the elections held on August 8.
Kenyan voters were given six ballot papers at their polling stations to vote for a president, MPs, Senators, Governors, female representatives and county assembly members.
Not surprisingly, there were a number of spoilt votes totaling 300,000.
Mr. Mahama, Head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission, admitted that it was too much to ask of the Kenyan electorate but said voters had done well to make the best of the circumstance, adding: “We will learn lessons from this experience.”
In the Commonwealth’s post-election statement, he said: “We believe that the election has been conducted in a transparent and credible manner and that Kenyans must be commended for that election.”
The two main protagonists for the presidency are the incumbent, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga, who has already challenged the result, which puts Mr. Kenyatta in the lead.
Odinga claimed that this was due to hacking, but the claim had been denied by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Chief Electoral Commissioner Ezra Chiloba said that Mr. Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) had not provided evidence to show that the system had been compromised, although he admitted that a hacking attempt failed.
Following Mr. Odinga’s claims, there were minor skirmishes in a Nairobi suburb and in Mombasa but residents in those areas said that criminals wanted to use the opportunity to loot while others wanted to settle scores.
On the other hand, Kenyans have been calm despite the noises by politicians and civil society activists because they are not interested in starting violence.
Another beautiful addition was that about five million young Kenyans voted for the first time, and added a new dimension to politics in the country.
Mr. Mahama told the media: “No Kenyan blood must be shed because someone disagrees with the outcome of the election.
“We have seen disputed elections in places like the US, but so long as the process is, by and large, they have been carried out in a transparent and credible way, politicians should accept the result in a statesmanlike manner.”
Speaking about his experience, Mr. Mahama said: “It’s not easy to lose an election, and it can be very disappointing.”
He said that if losers “graciously” accepted election defeat, they would end up being winners.
The African Union and East African Community observer missions also called on Kenyans to exercise patience while the results were being announced and not to resort to violence.
Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the former South African President, stressed the need for a peaceful outcome of the Kenyan elections.
President Kenyatta has already taken the lead with 55 per cent of the votes, while Mr. Odinga has 44 per cent.
The thousands of local and foreign observers have been unanimous in their commendation for the orderly and peaceful elections.
Polling stations opened at 6am and closed at 5pm but many were in the queues as early as 2am.
Vincent Kimosop, a governance policy analyst, told the GNA that it was cost effective to hold all the election in one day.
“What we need to make this work is to have better voter education and awareness programmes,” he said, adding, that could be possible by the next elections in 2022.
He said it was also heartening to see young people changing the political dynamics in Kenya – moving away from ethnic to issues-based politics.