No Electoral Reform, No Election Rerun––Kenya Opposition Says

Incumbent President Kenyatta, left, and opposition leader Odinga, right

EAST AFRICA —Opposition groups say they will not participate in the presidential election rerun of their demands for reform at the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) remain unaddressed.

The main opposition group, the National Super Alliance (NASA) headed by veteran opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has put forward demands requesting changes to the IEBC’s leadership and some key personnel to avoid rigging.

The country’s presidential election held on 8 August this year was annulled by the high court on grounds of vote and ballot tempering, nearby invalidating incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta’s win.   The Supreme Court then ordered the IEBC to hold fresh elections in 60 days.

“The presidential election was not conducted in accordance with the constitution, rendering the declared results invalid, null and void,” Chief Justice David Maraga said during the court proceeding.

President Kenyatta had condemned the Supreme Court’s decision and criticized the judges, singling out Chief Justice Maraga.

“Every time we do something, a judge comes out and places an injunction. It can’t go on like this,” Kenyatta told his supporters in a televised address from his home.

“Maraga (the chief justice) thinks he can overturn the will of the people,” Kenyatta said. “We shall show you in 60 days that the will of the people cannot be overturned by one or two individuals,” he added.

Kenya has “a problem” with its judiciary that must be fixed, he said.

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Faced with instant condemnation and criticisms from lawyers, judges and activists, Kenyatta became a bit reconciliatory, urging all Kenyans to keep the peace.

“Your neighbor will still be your neighbor regardless of whatever has happened,” he said. “Regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their religion, regardless of their color, regardless of their tribe.”

In reverence to the high court’s mandate, the IEBC has put in place mechanisms for a new election but the leading opposition party and veteran politician Odinga say there will no participation unless the IEBC is reconstituted with new members.

The ruling party and government rebuffed the opposition demands, according sources close to the leadership.

“They know we will beat them like the way we did on August 8. This is why they are now claiming that they will not participate in the October polls,” argued William Ruto, the country’s deputy president and an ally of President Kenyatta.

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Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere

Jacob Ujamaa Nyerere is a public affairs researcher and senior investigative correspondent.
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