Politicians conceding defeat catch Kenyans by surprise

Politicians conceding defeat catch Kenyans by surprise

Candidates who lost their bids in the 2022 General Election (from left) Polycarp Igathe (Nairobi governorship), Millicent Omanga (Nairobi Woman Representative seat) and Nzioka Waita (Machakos governorship).

  • Various aspirants who have been unsuccessful in their bids are coming out to concede defeat and even congratulate their opponents.
  • This is quite a rare sighting in Kenyan elections, where some candidates who emerge as far as the fourth position refute the results as soon as they are announced or even when they sense defeat, calling for a recount and moving to court altogether.
  • The flurry of politicians accepting defeat has surprised even veteran politicians like Kalonzo Musyoka who said that majority conceded too fast.

While Kenyans wait for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to release the results of who will be President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor, most of the county seat races have seen winners declared.

Various aspirants who have been unsuccessful in their bids are coming out to concede defeat and even congratulate their opponents.

This is quite a rare sighting in Kenyan elections, where some candidates who emerge as far as the fourth position refute the results as soon as they are announced or even when they sense defeat, calling for a recount and moving to court altogether.

The flurry of politicians accepting defeat has surprised even veteran politicians like Kalonzo Musyoka who said that majority conceded too fast.

In the aftermath of the 2017 General Election, IEBC data shows that there were as many as 387 election petitions, 160 of which were races of the top-three county seats alone.

The Supreme Court gives a one-week window to file a petition against the presidential election, while the constitution requires that any other election petition be filed within 28 days from the date of publication of the election results in the Kenya Gazette.

But although the window has not lapsed yet, we have witnessed more leaders accepting defeat in this election than ever before.

The latest to concede is Agano Party presidential candidate David Mwaure, who bowed out of the race on Sunday saying he did not think he stood a chance based on the votes he had garnered.

Earlier in the day, Nairobi Senatorial aspirant Millicent Omanga of the UDA Party accepted defeat after being trounced by ODM’s Esther Passaris after the results were announced.

Omanga said in a tweet that Passaris needs prayers and support for the next 5 years that she will be in office.

“I want to thank the people of Nairobi who voted for me & those who didn't. I accept the results even though they're not in my favour. Esther Passaris has won, she deserves our support & prayers as she steers the office of Woman Rep for the next 5 years. May God bless our country,” she wrote.

Likewise in the Nairobi gubernatorial race, Jubilee party candidate Polycarp Igathe conceded to Johnson Sakaja of UDA party.

Igathe said on Sunday morning: "I accept the decision of the people of Nairobi and thank all our supporters. The Governor of Nairobi is His Excellency Johnson Sakaja. Congratulations! God bless Kenya."

In the Laikipia governorship race, outgoing county boss Ndiritu Muriithi on Saturday conceded defeat in his re-election bid to Joshua Irungu, congratulating Irungu and promising to ensure a smooth handover to the new governor-elect.

Some of these contestants in the races have been yielding even before the electoral body announces the results such as in the case of Former State House Chief of Staff Nzioka Waita who lost to former Transport and Infrastructure Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Wavinya Ndeti in the Machakos governor race.

Businessman Zedekiah Bundotich alias Buzeki on Friday accepted defeat in the Uasin Gishu County gubernatorial race after IEBC declared his opponent Jonathan Bii Governor-elect. 

Outgoing Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa also surrendered after losing to George Natembeya in the Trans Nzoia race, while Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati accepted defeat after losing his re-election bid to Ken Lusaka.

The trend has been similar in the parliamentary races as well, such as in Langata where the incumbent, Nixon Korir, conceded defeat even before results were announced as well.

Korir on Wednesday congratulated comedian Felix Odiwor, alias Jalang’o, who was eventually announced the winner.

In comparison to the 2017 General Election, refuting results took much prominence. Among those who dismissed the results were then-Kirinyaga governor aspirant Martha Karua after the results were announced in favour of her main opponent, Anne Waiguru.

Karua moved to court to challenge the results alleging rigging, but the case was later dismissed on grounds that it lacked merit.

Presidential hopeful Raila Odinga at the time also rejected the election outcome after IEBC declared Uhuru Kenyatta the president-elect. Mr Odinga filed a petition at the Supreme Court where the election was nullified.

As all eyes focus on the electoral body to call the winners of the country’s top seat by Monday, August 15, per the one-week window that the law gives, the two main contenders, Deputy President William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are on record promising that they are ready to concede defeat once the results are announced.

DP Ruto who is the flagbearer of the Kenya Kwanza Alliance committed to accepting defeat in March this year while speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

“Yes, without qualifications. Because that is what democracy is. And that is the question I want all the other competitors to answer. Every presidential candidate must be made to commit that they will respect the will of the people,” he said.

Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition party front-runner Raila Odinga afterwards took DP Ruto's challenge during a joint media interview last month.

Mr Odinga said: “Definitely. I am a sportsman and I know that asiye kubali kushindwa si mshindani. I would easily accept defeat and congratulate the winner.”

However, there are a few leaders who are not going the concession route and have decided they are not going down without a fight. 

Kirinyaga governor aspirant Wangui Ngirici has vowed to ​​challenge Anne Waiguru’s win. Ngirici on Sunday alleged rigging in the exercise, adding that “God is revealing slowly by slowly what went down.”

In the Homa Bay governor race, Evans Kidero is also headed to court to challenge Gladys Wanga’s win.

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