Kenya’s presidential elections fiasco made a prominent comeback this week in the newspaper headlines, as senior executives of the East African nation’s disgraced electoral body gave details of how they mismanaged the polls.
The resultant violence and the blame game over who actually planned the post-election violence also received a more prominent play the whole week as the South African Judge, Johann Kriegler, investigating the poll fiasco prepared to finalise his job.
The post-election violence, which revealed the extent of hatred amongst the rival political groups that had participated in the presidential elections in December, became an issue of major focus after the Kriegler team allowed independent groups to name suspects.
The Daily Nation, one of the two leading dailies, played up the Kriegler Commission’s ruling that allowed the independent human rights organisations that had testified in camera at the commission, to reveal the names of politicians who planned the violence.
The confessions this week, from senior officials of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), of how the presidential and the parliamentary elections in December , 2007, was mismanaged and how they ended up declaring interim results as opposed to final results, dominated the headlines in both electronic and the print media.
But the fun and the irony from the senior officials of the electoral body was the embarrassing moments when they had to face up to the investigators and try to absolve themselves from taking personal responsibility for the errors that led to the chaos.
The newspapers occasionally toned down on the claims by the main protagonists, Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to have legitimately won the polls.
However, the Standard, one of the six leading dailies, broke the jinx and played up the rivalry between the PNU and the ODM factions at the probe commission.
In its story Thursday, the newspaper splashed the lead: “We won elections,” quoting the ODM.
The story, in which the ODM Secretary-General Anyang’ Nyong’o, claimed the party won the presidential polls outright, appeared as the exception, and not the rule.
It ran alongside a picture of President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga together in Mombasa, the second city, on a working tour, viewing the Indian Ocean coastline, with a caption which said the two principals had moved on from the rivalry, but their parties were still wrangling over who actually won the elections.
The stories this week were worked around the violence which killed about 1,500 people.
In its lead story Thursday, the Daily Nation shouted: “Revealed: Secrets of election violence,” in a story in which the newspaper pointed out to the planning details of the chaos.