Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga quits election rerun

Gwen Vasquez
October 11, 2017

The decision comes as a big surprise after Mr. Odinga and his NASA coalition successfully petitioned Kenya's Supreme Court to annul the results of the initial poll in August, in which incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta was declared victor.

While Kenyans voted peacefully on August 8, the opposition quickly cried foul over tallying and the Supreme Court agreed, citing "disturbing, if not startling, revelations" about the conduct of the IEBC.

It stated that candidates in the fresh election would only be President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

Odinga takes his complaints to the Supreme Court. "If he has chosen not to run, we are ready for the elections with or without the NASA candidate on the 26th of October this year, and the people of Kenya will decide". "All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one", the statement said.

In early September, the supreme court had annulled the results of the presidential election which were held on August 8 and ordered for a fresh vote in 60 days.

"It is his democratic right not to participate", Kenyatta said.

In the run-up to the reelection, there were attempts by Kenyatta's Jubilee Party, which has a majority in parliament, to reform electoral laws and the IEBC, but the opposition dismissed the efforts as insincere.

Kenyatta is yet to respond to Odinga's announcement.

The opposition leader said Tuesday that because their demands were not met, they would not go through with reelections.

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Judges of the apex court said their decision to invalidate Kenyatta's victory was based on gross malpractices by the electoral agency that included tampering of results tallying and transmission infrastructure.

In reaction to the expected vote next week, the United States, a major donor to the Kenyan government and its security forces, said in a sharply worded statement on Friday: "Changing electoral laws without broad agreement just prior to a poll is not consistent with worldwide best practice (and) increases political tension".

The court ruled the elections were flawed and said new polls must be conducted within 60 days.

Other than the electoral changes by their counterparts in the Jubilee Government, the NASA coalition is opposed to the continued stay of several Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials, AL Ghurair, the firm that printed the ballot papers, among other contentious issues.

The uncertainty has also hamstrung east Africa's largest economy, leading to a slowdown in business across the private sector.

The commission will thereafter communicate the way forward.

Earlier Chebukati said it did respond to the opposition's irreducible minimums and can guarantee the integrity of the fresh presidential election.

According to figures released by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati, the incumbent garnered 8,203,290 votes while Odinga managed 6,762,224 votes.

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