By Mohamed Matope

On March 4, 2013, Kenya held its first general election under the new constitution, which was adopted in 2010. The elections for president, governors and senators as well as members of parliament were also the first to be run by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). There were eight candidates for the presidency.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the son of Kenya’s first Vice President, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister, Uhuru Kenyatta also a son of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta were the obvious front runners.

The United States (U.S.A) and the European Union (EU) all expressed concern, particularly with the potential outcome of the presidential poll. As matter of fact, the degree of interference by the western powers in Kenya’s presidential election was unprecedented.

Perhaps because of their economic interests in Kenya, the United States and Europe could not wait to take sides. Only days before the elections, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson warned Kenyans, “Choices have consequences.” His statement was widely seen as a campaign against Kenyatta and veiled threat to voters.

Simultaneously, the European Union warned it would have only “essential contacts” with Kenya while French ambassador, Etienne de Poncins blatantly said, “France would impose economic sanctions on Kenya, if Kenyatta became president.”

Meanwhile, Kenyans had a different opinion and refused to be intimidated in their choice of the person they considered the most suitable to lead them and advance their national interests in a resource rich and an economic powerhouse of the region.

When all was said and done, Kenyans decisively elected Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, 52, and his running mate, William Kipchirchir Samoei arap Ruto, 47, as President and Vice- President respectively on the Jubilee Coalition ticket.

Several months before the polls, Kenyatta and Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity. They faced allegations of orchestrating the vicious tribal attacks following Kenya's 2007 general election. During the violence, more than 1,000 people were killed and thousands were left internally displaced.   

Although the indictment of Kenyatta and Ruto proclaimed the landmark for the ICC in
the fight against the culture of impunity in Africa, many Kenyans held a different view. They saw the case as a mere move by the West to not only destroy the political career of Kenyatta  but also as an attempt to pave the way for Raila Odinga.

Since, March 4 presidential election in Kenya was a referendum against Western interference in African affairs.  Its outcome therefore, was not only important for Kenyans but also the whole Africa. President Kenyatta summed it up all in his victory speech when he said, “Today, we celebrate the triumph of democracy; the triumph of peace; the triumph of nationhood. Despite the misgivings of many in the world, we demonstrated a level of political maturity that surpassed expectations.

Complementing Kenyans President –elect continued, We dutifully turned out; we voted in peace; we upheld order and respect for the rule of law and we maintained the fabric of our society. That is the real victory today..a victory for our nation..a victory that demonstrates to all that Kenya has finally come of age. That this, indeed, is Kenya’s moment.”

Turning directly to the Western world, newly elected President Kenyatta added: “We also expect that the international community will respect our sovereignty and democratic will of the people of Kenya… I and my team understand that Kenya is part of the community of nations and while as leaders we are, first and foremost, servants of the Kenyan people... We will continue to co-operate with all nations and international institutions– in line with those obligations The African star are shining brightly and the destiny of Africa is now in our hands.”

That was indeed a remarkable statement provided that, against all odds, the people of Kenya have managed to hand over power to a post independence generation of leaders through a peaceful and democratic process
. Therefore, it is with the utmost sense of joy and pride that Kenyans, have finally demonstrated to the whole world that they hold the destiny of their country in their hands.  It is indeed, a new star on the horizon, HARAMBEE.