Uncertainty In The Kenyan Presidential Elections: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

Uncertainty In The Kenyan Presidential Elections: THE HINDU EDITORIAL

With a petition filed in Kenya’s Supreme Court against the October 26 rerun of the presidential election, the country risks an  intensification of political turmoil. The challenge is the second since the initial elections in August, which were overturned on grounds of alleged discrepancies in tabulation at the polling stations and the computer systems. That unprecedented ruling in September was widely hailed as an exemplar of judicial independence. Since then, President Uhuru Kenyatta has rammed through legislation that circumscribes the authority of the electoral mechanism and legal scrutiny of polls. The sense of intimidation was palpable when most of the judges failed to show up to hear a plea for the postponement of the vote. The outcome of the latest legal challenge is therefore far from certain. If the judges again decide not to uphold the latest victory for the incumbent, the absence of a genuine contest could prove to be a critical factor. The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, had withdrawn from the second race in protest against the new legislation and the lack of material improvement on the ground. Days before the October election, the election commission lost the services of top officials, with one fleeing the country saying she feared for her life. Such a turn of events came as a chilling reminder of the mysterious death of a high functionary of the electoral body just before the elections in August. Moreover, there was considerable scepticism over the credibility of the October vote, as a large-scale revamp of the electoral system was seen to be impossible within that timeframe. This is why there is speculation that the court may see merit in the petitioner’s claim that the polls were anything but free and fair. Both Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga bear much moral responsibility for the current stalemate and the violence. It is time they negotiated a lasting settlement to restore credibility to Kenya’s democracy. That requires them, especially Mr. Kenyatta, to play by the rules laid down under the 2010 constitution, which provides for greater devolution of powers. Above all, there needs to be an end to the near- monopoly of power enjoyed by the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin ethnic communities since the country’s freedom from colonial rule. Memories of the killing of hundreds in the aftermath of the 2007 elections should underscore the urgency of bringing the current fluid situation within control. For its part, the African Union must exert political pressure on Kenya’s two veteran politicians to prevent the escalation of the crisis beyond Kenya’s borders. This week the government lowered the forecast for GDP growth to below 5%, with analysts blaming the political crisis for the negative sentiment. The social cost of this upheaval would be incalculable. Strengthening the election mechanism against political interference would be an important first step.

Learn Vocabulary from THE HINDU EDITORIAL

1) Intensification
Meaning: The action of making or becoming more intense.
Example: “the intensification of the conflict”
Synonyms: Escalation, Augmentation
Antonyms: Abatement
2) Turmoil
Meaning: A state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty.
Example: “the country was in turmoil”
Synonyms: Turbulence, Tumult
Antonyms: Calm, Peace
3) Discrepancies
Meaning: An illogical or surprising lack of compatibility or similarity between two or more facts.
Example: “there’s a discrepancy between your account and his”
Synonyms: Difference, Disparity
Antonyms: Similarity, Correspondence
4) Unprecedented
Meaning: Never done or known before.
Example: “the government took the unprecedented step of releasing confidential correspondence”
Synonyms: Unequalled, Unmatched
Antonyms: Normal, Common
5) Hailed
Meaning: Praise (someone or something) enthusiastically.
Example: “he has been hailed as the new James Dean”
Synonyms: Acclaim, Praise
Antonyms: Criticize, Condemn
6) Exemplar
Meaning: A person or thing serving as a typical example or appropriate model.
Example: “the place is an exemplar of multicultural Britain”
Synonyms: Model, Ideal
7) Rammed
Meaning: Roughly force (something) into place.
Example: “he rammed his stick into the ground”
Synonyms: Force, Thrust
8) Circumscribes
Meaning: Restrict (something) within limits.
Example: “the minister’s powers are circumscribed both by tradition and the organization of local government”
Synonyms: Restrict, Limit
Antonyms: Liberal
9) Palpable
Meaning: (of a feeling or atmosphere) so intense as to seem almost tangible.
Example: “a palpable sense of loss”
Synonyms: Perceptible, Visible
Antonyms: Intangible, Imperceptible
10) Incumbent
Meaning: Necessary for (someone) as a duty or responsibility; the holder of an office or post.
Example: “the government realized that it was incumbent on them to act”
Synonyms: Obligatory, Mandatory
Antonyms: Optional
11) Fleeing
Meaning: Run away from a place or situation of danger.
Example: “to escape the fighting, his family fled from their village”
Synonyms: Escape, Abscond
12) Mysterious
Meaning: Difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify.
Example: “his colleague had vanished in mysterious circumstances”
Synonyms: Peculiar, Curious
Antonyms: Straightforward
13) Speculation
Meaning: The forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence.
Example: “there has been widespread speculation that he plans to quit”
Synonyms: Supposition, Guesswork
14) Credibility
Meaning: The quality of being trusted and believed in.
Example: “the government’s loss of credibility”
Synonyms: Reliability, Integrity
15) Colonial
Meaning: A person from another country who lives in a colony, especially as part of its system of government.
Example: “a rebellion by Dutch-speaking colonials”
16) Aftermath
Meaning: The consequences or after-effects of a significant unpleasant event.
Example: “food prices soared in the aftermath of the drought”
Synonyms: Fall-out, Issue
17) Exert
Meaning: Apply or bring to bear (a force, influence, or quality).
Example: “the moon exerts a force on the Earth”
Synonyms: Apply, Utilize

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