Top 5 Elections To Watch In Africa And Predictions For 2017
The election planned for Aug. 8, 2017, is going to have people on the edge of their seats. Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have history on their side. All incumbent presidents in Kenya since independence won second terms, including Uhuru’s father Jomo Kenyatta. Jomo was Kenya’s first president and won three consecutive elections. Critics will argue that the situation favors Kenyatta with many Kenyans. A recent poll from Infotrak Research and Consulting shows that more than 60 percent of the respondents worry about 2017 election violence. Some locals quietly fret that change could spell backlash and create violence.
All the fears, however, may slowly die before the election with the opposition relying on the recent victories and peaceful transitions in other African democracies, especially Nigeria and Ghana. The opposition is arguing that Kenyans are not benefiting as they should from economic growth while Kenyan lawmakers are well paid (similar to the argument made in Nigeria’s election), how corruption is widespread (also similar to the argument made in Nigeria’s election), and that change can be made now in a peaceful manner (a rather simple but important promise from Ghana’s new president Nana Akufo Addo in the recent election). The uncertainty around the opposition’s ability to win and traction with the public still centers on Raila Odinga, the 72-year-old son of Kenya’s first vice president. Opponents of Kenyatta are have to decide whether Odinga has the ability to rally support and coalesce the opposition as he makes his fourth run for the presidency. He previously ran in 1997, 2007, and 2013. If Odinga is not standard bearer for the opposition, then Kenyatta’s chances will drastically rise.
Who will win? The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) wins if the election is peaceful — if the IEBC can prevent any violence, ease the ethnic polarization, and simply appear as a strong and fair administrator in the election process. Expect the IEBC to do all of those things and more. It’s hard to see Uhuru Kenyatta losing a second term, but do plan for a race tighter than any observer can imagine.