Kenyan leaders play victim to win electorate as polls loom

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-14 18:23:20|Editor: Yurou
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by Bedah Mengo

NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- As political campaigns for the repeat Oct. 17 polls gather momentum in Kenya, the main presidential candidates are portraying themselves as victims of corrupt institutions in a bid to win voters.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party is painting himself as a victim of "corrupt" judges at the Supreme Court, who annulled his win in Aug. 8 polls.

On the other hand, his main rival, the National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga is portraying himself as a victim of a "corrupt" electoral system perpetuated by the poll's body officials.

"The decision by the four Supreme Court judges to nullify my win was the most painful moment of my life. Four people cannot change what Kenyans have decided. I don't and will not agree with them," Kenyatta, who initially labelled the judges crooks and promised to 'fix' the apex court if elected, said on Wednesday.

He expressed the sentiments at a meeting with leaders and supporters from the Abagusii tribe, from which the Chief Justice David Maraga hails from, as he tried to win back the community's support.

"It was very painful for me to accept the decision. I'm a human being and I was angry at Maraga and the Supreme Court, not the Abagusii community as Odinga would want you to believe," said Kenyatta.

He defended his outbursts against the Supreme Court, asking his audience if it was wrong for him to come out and defend himself if he is robbed.

"I know I won the election. Just imagine a thief is caught with your cow and then the court rules that the police did not record the crime, so the cow cannot be yours," Kenyatta said, as he propagated the victimhood narrative.

On Thursday, a Jubilee Party lawmaker filed a petition at the Judicial Service Commission seeking the removal of the Chief Justice, who he accused of gross misconduct.

Odinga, on the other hand, reiterated that NASA would not go to the polls with the current electoral commission officials accusing them of robbing him of victory and bungling the polls.

"We will only go to an election when the playing field is level," said Odinga on Wednesday. "The last time the commission was partisan and the evidence we produced in court was enormous. We are not ready to engage in a farce."

His NASA coalition announced that there would be no elections on Oct. 17 unless those who stole their victory are sacked and punished.

"We wish to inform all Kenyans that there will be no polls if the concerns raised in our petition are not met," said Odinga's partner in NASA Moses Wetangula.

"We will not only boycott the elections, but we will also not allow Jubilee to go to polls alone," Wetangula said.

The coalition on Wednesday said it would institute private criminal prosecution of the electoral commission officials over the bungled polls in a new political tactic to stop them from managing the repeat polls.

In its war against the commission, the party is targeting 11 top officials, including the chief executive and a commissioner in charge of information and communication technology.

Analysts noted that playing the victim card is a strategy both Odinga and Kenyatta have perfected to galvanize their strongholds and win votes in the past elections.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, explained that someone who plays victim seeks to gain sympathy often by misrepresenting facts to create an image of persecution.

In the 2013 polls, Kenyatta played victim of the International Criminal Court where he was facing crimes against humanity charges following the violent 2007 elections.

Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto portrayed themselves as innocent and were being pursued by the court due to pressure from western nations so that they could not win polls.

"That narrative worked well for the two and they managed to galvanize their political bases in Rift Valley and Central Kenya, where their supporters voted them to the last man," noted Wandera.

However, he added the victim narrative was hard to sell ahead of the Aug. 8 polls for Kenyatta as there was nothing to cling on, therefore, he sold a development agenda.

"But with the Supreme Court ruling, Kenyatta has something to use to persuade his supporters and seek sympathy. That is what he would sell during this campaign period," he noted.

Odinga, on his part, has for the last three elections in 2007, 2013 and 2017 claimed that he was robbed of his victory by the electoral commission through rigging and has fought for reforms at the polls body.