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Boardroom pacts on the presidency must be rejected by Kenyan voters.

figure By KWENDO OPANGA Africa's foremost trade union leader Francis Atwoli says Kenyans will vote in elections for Members of County Assemblies, Senators and Governors and that will be it.The vote for the president, he declares confidently, will take place in a boardroom.

And, Mr Atwoli says, you had better take him seriously because his word counts, carries substantial freight and comes to pass.But, listen, this is a bombshell.

I am however surprised there has been no surprise, outrage or debate even at such brazen assault on Kenya's electoral system. One, Mr Atwoli is saying your vote counts for nothing in a presidential poll.

He is not talking about people sitting in boardrooms and comparing and contrasting the abilities of possible candidates. He is not talking about identifying candidates for the presidency.

He is talking about the result of a presidential poll or, that is, the tenant at State House.As he tells it, Kenya is far too important a regional business centre to be run without the interests of the respective regional and global players brought to bear on a presidential candidate, and therefore, race and result.

In Mr Atwoli's telling, these regional and global business interests deposit their cash in Kenyan banks even long before feasibility studies for their projects in the region get underway. It is why, he avers, the Kenyan economy remains strong.

Two, therefore Mr Atwoli is saying it is foreign interests and their elite local counterparts that will decide, or decides, who becomes President of Kenya. Which brings us to two questions: is this true and, if so, how do they do it? For one thing, they have neither numbers nor votes.

For another, they did not propel President Moi to power for he inherited the office upon the death of founding President Jomo Kenyatta. 2022 POLLSOf course, it has been speculated that before old Jomo was released, Mr Moi visited him alone in Maralal and a pact was sealed between them.

Mr Moi on his own managed his unopposed presidential runs as well as the contested 1992 and 1997 elections.Yes, the outgoing colonial power did want Jaramogi Oginga Odinga to take the reins of power.

But he declined saying jailed old Jomo was the leader for Africans and there would be no independence without him.This says the boardroom was involved in proposing Jaramogi just as it was in 2002 when Mr Simeon Nyachae and Mr Raila Odinga sealed a pact in the small hours only for the latter to endorse Mr Mwai Kibaki in the afternoon.

The boardroom was a factor when in 2002 President Moi surprised everybody by declaring one Uhuru Kenyatta, a political greenhorn and failed parliamentary aspirant, his preferred successor. But it was the votes of Kenyans that took Mr Kibaki to State House.

SUPPORTERSA boardroom deal between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Musalia Mudavadi in 2012, which was to see the former back the latter for the top job, was overturned by furious supporters of Mr Kenyatta. The seeds that would germinate into Uhuru-Ruto were sown.

But when President Barack Obama's pointman in Africa Johnnie Carson tried to sway public support against crimes against humanity accused Kenyatta and Ruto in 2012, the public backlash was furious. Mr Carson told Kenyans choices have consequences but they stuck with their UhuRuto.

They did the same in 2017.That leaves us with the infamous 2007 presidential poll whose call for Mr Kibaki led to Kenya's worst post-election violence. The violence erupted because Mr Odinga's supporters believed he won it.

So, what is the boardroom decision Mr Atwoli is talking about?It is important to point out that Mr Atwoli was justifying his claim that Deputy President William Ruto would not be allowed to 'tanga tanga' his way to the presidency. That a boardroom decision to stop a Ruto presidency has been made, and at the highest levels, appears bankable.

Of course, Mr Atwoli has made it clear that there will be a new President in 2022 but it will not be Mr Ruto. That says Mr Atwoli is privy to strategic information about the next presidential election most of us know nothing about.

But while the boardroom has its role in elections, its decisions and reasons for them must be put before the Kenyan electors for purposes of transparency and demonstration of good faith.However, what the electorate must reject outright is foreign influence of the presidential election.

Kenyans must vote for their president.
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Publication:Daily Nation, Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)
Geographic Code:6KENY
Date:Feb 3, 2019
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