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Friday, August 11, 2017

Election Anticipation Mounts: Almost Over???

Another 48 hours has gone by, and we still wait.  The IEBC constitutionally has 7 days to count the votes and announce the results.  The TV stations have hours to fill.  So we have continuous reports, rumors, accusations, occasionally suspended when the very confidence-inspiring CEO of the IEBC comes on to calmly explain what is happening next.  

The opposition claims that the official numbers are wrong, that even if the international observers testify to the integrity of the process the opposition alliance has their own vote tallies that prove their candidate leads.  Since corruption and injustice are realities in this place, people take these accusations seriously, particularly in the poorest areas of the country. The opposition candidate gave an exclusive interview to CNN last night basically saying that the electronic transmission of data was unreliable, and he can't be responsible for his supporters if their protests turn unruly. The police prepare to respond.  The international observers including John Kerry are shown intermittently giving details of the process and lending their credibility.  The IEBC calls for patience.  Now 288 of the 290 regional collected reports coming from the 40,883 polling stations have been received and verified on paper, which involves tables of people from all parties physically handling and viewing results.  The final two reports require the presence of the election officials who submitted them to answer questions, so that seems to be what we're waiting for now.  The incumbent President who per the IEBC electronic data (that we're all waiting for the paper ballots to confirm) remains 1.3 million votes ahead, and silent in the media.
Calm Naivasha

Police on horses . . not a common sight . . 

And Kenyans collectively hold their breath.  Babies are born, a 24-week preem delivered on the way from Suswa to Naivasha in the darkness of early morning, .  Kids cough and wheeze and need IV lines.  Nurses and nutritionists and lab techs do their jobs distractedly, clustering around radio reports on their phones or gathering in  front of the lobby TV.  Shops in Naivasha remain largely open, at least half have couches and shovels and T-shirts and mattresses stacked on the roadside.  People meander to the market, the boda motorcycles buzz, the matatus call for business.  In spite of an order that government employees had no excuse for failing to report to work, NO ONE on my team did so today.  Again.  So there is a peculiar overlay of normality, a tense undercurrent of bracing for chaos, and a wearying wait for resolution.

I think my favorite quote of the week came from an article that interviewed a woman in a shop: ""Elections are always bad news for us poor people. I have to pay bills and feed my children. I don't care who wins." 
And I'm told the youth in the slums are coining a slogan that roughly says "We won't bleed for you to lead".  Kenyans have risen up before, and found out that they paid a high price while those they supported did not suffer quite the same way.  One of my friends predicts that there will be brief violence, the police will respond with deadly force, and the collective emotional turmoil will quickly dissipate in favor of survival.

After the election, we still have to live together.  Please do pray for tonight, that there would be a clear winner with a transparent process, and that Kenyans would not die in the process of accepting the results, and that the winner would work for justice rather than personal power.  And pray for us. After a cup of coffee and a cookie, it's back to the sorrows of the world, just called for a sexually abused child, and feeling that I personally have nothing left to give, and don't like how this week pushes on my heart in bitterness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hoping and praying for a peaceful and just resolution. You are in an impossible situation in terms of work load...hang in there. God somehow makes a way - especially when we come to the end of ourselves and our strength. Thank you for creating time to write your posts in the middle of the chaos and inhuman work load. Much respect and gratitude for your work. Keep shining.