Friday, August 6, 2010



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

August 5, 2010

Soon after the provisional results of the referendum polls were announced, Kenyans from all corners of the republic including Eldoret North constituency were united in one thing; they were proud to have voted in peace like civilized citizens and were indeed proud to be Kenyans.

Young Kenyans everywhere, Kalenjins, Kikuyus, Luos, Luhyas, Merus and Giriamas among others were united in one thing; they were proud to be peaceful and democratic Kenyans. Voices from Rift Valley especially in Eldoret were emphatic. Ordinary young men and women were very happy with the results. To them, Kenyans were the winners and not the Reds or the Greens or even leading politicians. And their only common wish was one; to have a similar peaceful election in 2012.

On the other hand, when I watched William Ruto’s “concession speech”, I was disappointed to say the least. First it was too long and windy for a concession speech. Such speeches are normally scripted and edited and hardly last one minute. In Ruto’s case, it was another campaign platform to justify why his Reds didn’t carry the day.

In William Ruto’s interpretation of international standards requirements for such a referendum, he maintained that 40% of registered voters must pass the document in order for the referendum to be valid. In other words in our case, we would need 4.8 million votes of our 12 million registered voters to pass the referendum.

In our situation, Ruto’s Reds alone garnered more than 20% of registered voters considering that they collected more than 2.5 million votes. On the other hand, the Greens’ win that Ruto disparaged as a minority garnered more than 6 million votes, the equivalent of 50% of registered voters. Unless his arithmetic played havoc with his tongue, he should have thought through before going on television to speak about numbers.

While accepting the provisional results as ground enough to concede defeat by side Reds side, he still maintained that 45 of Kenyans abstained from the vote while 16% voted against the draft. Again I find myself in problems with his mathematics. According to available results in the public domain, if 8.7 million out of 12 million registered voters took part in the poll, was this number more than 45% or not? To tell you the truth, 72.5% of registered Kenyan voters indeed took part with 70% of votes cast saying Yes to the new draft. One can therefore not fail to see William Ruto’s usual theatrics of playing with numbers to mislead the masses that may not pay attention to details.

In his concession speech, Ruto had forgotten the reason why Kenyans went to the polls in the first place. We did so because his group chose to differ with Kenyans over what the Reds considered contentious issues. These were the issues of land ownership, the Kadhis’ courts and abortion clauses in the draft.

Because we could not agree even after Parliament unanimously approved the draft, it was important that both sides presented their stories to the court of public opinion so that the people of Kenya could make the final decision.

It was therefore with tongue-in -cheek that William Ruto, after being defeated, was now calling for immediate consultations with the winners to discuss possible amendments if this country has to be held together.

I may be wrong but I saw a veiled threat by Ruto that unless Kenyans talk to him, there will never be peace in this country. William Ruto lost the vote in an open, democratic and free contest. The earlier he eternalizes this, the better for all Kenyans. He cannot have his cake at eat it at the same time!

Be that as it may, on what authority can William Ruto claim to be dictating terms? Who is Ruto representing now in this dispensation? Are those the 56% of the people in Rift Valley that voted for him? And even if that were the case, can Ruto claim that the 2.6 millions Kenyans that voted for No were his followers? Didn’t we have the churches in the opposition? Didn’t we have Daniel Moi with his own agenda in the No camp? And even if we look at Ruto’s Eldoret North constituency, he only had 50% of the vote with the rest going Green. Can Ruto with any moral authority claim to have any tangible following to create more demands on Kenyans when seven and a half provinces out of the eight provinces voted for the constitution?

My advice to William Ruto at this moment should be simple; concede defeat with dignity and without any conditions. Listen to the voices of your constituents that talked to the media soon after the results were announced. Had you listened to them, you would have realized how out of touch you were with the reality on the ground. These simple folks were all praises for a wonderful referendum. In their judgment, it was not the Green that won and the Red lost. It was Kenya that won and hoped that the 2012 elections would equally be peaceful. Yes, they expressed their happiness to be Kenyans once more. Please reassure them that this is indeed the case.