(Solomon Dibaba – ENA)
The nationwide election that was conducted in Kenya in 2013 was one of the most violent elections in the post independence history of the country in which more than 1000 people have been killed and huge amount of state and private property was damaged. Earlier in 2007, similar post election violence saw the death of 1,500 people and more than 600,000 were displaced.
Both rounds of elections severely affected Kenya’s flourishing tourist industry and devastated the service sector of the economy
Except for long lines of voters, the 2017 national election that was held on the 9th of August 2017 was rather peaceful. However, with the countdown of the votes at 95.3 percent, the current President Uhuru Kenyatta is reportedly leading with more votes. This was immediately followed by a statement from Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition of NASA (National Super Alliance) Party in which he said the election commission’s IT system was hacked.
The opposition is claiming that Odinga has won the election but Kenya's electoral commission has warned the opposition that its claims of victory for its presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, could be deemed illegal.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ezra Chiloba, chief electoral officer confirmed that the system was not compromised under no circumstances. BBC quotes him saying: "I wish to take this opportunity to confirm that our elections management system is secure. There were no external or internal interference to the system at any point before, during or after the voting."
Although the electoral commission has not officially declared the results, there is an impending danger that Kenya is back to square one. Despite the very strong security precautions and commitment to maintain peace at any cost, sporadic violence have been vividly observed in several areas of Nairobi, according to media reports.
In related news, In a press statement it issued on the 9th of August IGAD’s Election Observer Mission (IGAD-EOM) to Kenya reported that “based on what it has been able to observe, the IGAD – EOM preliminary conclusion is that the general elections were conducted in a peaceful, orderly and transparent manner and in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the republic of Kenya.”
On the other hand, observers from the African Union and the European Union among others issued a joint statement urging political parties "to use the legally provided channels of dispute resolution in case of any dissatisfaction with the process", adding that police should "avoid excessive use of force".
Any political development in Kenya has far greater implications for the countries of the Horn of Africa and of course for all IGAD member countries. Kenya has repeatedly suffered from the naked violence of terrorist activities, particularly Al-Shabab.
The pervious election has resulted in huge displacement of hundreds and thousands of Kenyans who are used to peaceful life. Following the results of the first round of results in which the incumbent President is leading, ordinary Kenyans in Nairobi are closing their shops due to a justified speculation of further violence.
The current election in Kenya has much more deeper implication for the age old peaceful relationship and cooperation between Kenya and Ethiopia. Both countries are already negotiating on free movement of peoples and commodities for trade between the two countries. Ethiopia is already processing the technical prerequisites for sharing hydro electric power with Kenya. Ethiopia and Kenya are also spearheading the struggle against terrorism individually and under AMISOM.
Both countries can definitely benefit from peace and socio-economic cooperation through infrastructural networking and integration as well as pursuing common goals in the context of AU’s Agenda 2063. The result of the current election in Kenya, although not officially disclosed is expected to further the growing economic, political and people to people relations between the two countries.
For instance, the multi-faceted cooperation between Ethiopia and Kenya will enable both countries to engage in a number of agriculture based joint ventures between the investors from both countries.
On the other hand as a means of ascertaining peace, the countries can strengthen their cooperation on arms trafficking and cross border crimes that could obstruct the peaceful situation between the two countries.
Besides, both countries are recurrently affected by drought and the proliferation of pests like army worms. In addition, every year, the two countries lose millions of dollars due to illicit trade and contraband that is being practiced particularly between the joint border areas.
In November 2012 the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki signed an agreement entitled Special Status Agreement to promote and encourage bilateral ties in all major priority areas, including trade, investment, infrastructure and sustainable development, with the intent to reduce poverty and transform the economies of both countries.
The Agreement sets out five priority areas for cooperation: trade, investment, infrastructure, food security and sustainable livelihoods and it will be applicable across all identified areas of cooperation. The Agreement allows for the establishment of a Joint Private Investment Council consisting of representatives from both governments and from the private sectors of each country. This will have the job of facilitating and promoting trade and investment in close collaboration with the national investment agencies.
In 2016 Prime Minister Hailemariam paid an official visit to Kenya among other things, the leaders of the two countries discussed on the speedy implementation of the Special Status Agreement. During the visit PM Hailemariam and President Uhuru Kenyatta extensively discussed on the implementation of energy projects, border management and human trafficking as well as security cooperation.
Whatever the outcome of the election may be the two countries will enjoy their time tested friendly relations which is expected to grow.