Kenya’s Raila Odinga withdraws from election rerun

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, has withdrawn from a rerun of the presidential election, saying electoral officials have failed to make necessary reforms.

Kenya’s Supreme Court last month annulled the August presidential poll, won by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, due to widespread irregularities in the counting process.

Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) had pledged not to take part in the vote rerun unless reforms were made to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday, Odinga said, “After deliberating on our position in respect of the upcoming election … we believe that all will be best served by [the party] vacating its presidential candidature in the election scheduled for 26 October 2017.

“We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel … All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one.”

Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi, said the opposition has been saying they will not just be boycotting the elections, but that there will be no elections.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, with people asking if there will be disruptions in elections in the strongholds of Odinga,” she said.

“These are unprecedented times for Kenya. People are asking why is it that you go to court , the court rules in your favour and you come and withdraw from the election, and this election has been set because of the petition that you have filed.

“But Odinga says that the IEBC has refused to even listen to the some of the demands – demands that the NASA coalition says are reasonable – that they have been making.”

Procedural irregularities

In another development on Tuesday, Kenyan opposition legislators said they would boycott parliament over proposed election law amendments in advance of the election rerun.

The poll pitting Kenyatta against Odinga must be held by the end of October, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

Judges ordered the rerun after nullifying Kenyatta’s win in the August 8 vote, citing procedural irregularities.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, who has covered Kenya extensively, says Odinga has taken the decision perhaps in the hope that people are going to listen to  him and organise those reforms.

“There was very little room for manoeuvre here – just 60 days in which an election had to be held,” he said.

“What Odinga wanted was at first extensive reforms at the electon commission. But later on, he said he was willing to have only the secretariat – that is the commissioners, who would be difficult to replace – to go.

“What we see so far is that no one at the commission has left.”

There will be “an issue of legitimacy definitely”, our correspondent said, referring to the scheduled rerun of the election.


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