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UN dispatched Nigeria’s Obasanjo to avert political crisis in Kenya

Ex- Nigeria’s president Obasanjo, center, in Kenya to diffuse political tension

NEW YORK–Last Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres referred former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to Kenya to help forestall a political crisis, according to chief UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Dujarric  said, “The political situation in Kenya is one we have been following closely, especially the ongoing preparation by the opposition, the National Super Alliance (NASA), for the swearing-in planned in January.”

The UN chief spokesman said former President Obasanjo is a member of the secretary-general’s high-level Mediation Panel. “It’s in that context the secretary-general asked former president Obasanjo … to visit Kenya.”

Kenya has a tumultuous presidential election both in August and October last year.  The first polling was annulled by a ruling of the country’s High Court which in turn ordered a rerun on grounds that the first poll was raged.

The main opposition party and challenger Raila Odinga issued demands which called for changes and restructuring at the country’s election commission. Odinga and his party boycotted the election when, according to them, the changes were not made.  Hence, paving the way for incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta’s party to go to the poll solo, winning almost 98 percent of the votes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was inaugurated in November 2017.  The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga then said he would have his own swearing-in, backed by NASA.

That planned “inauguration” is scheduled to take place at the end of this January 2017, a factor that could create a serious and chaotic politic drawback.

The potential for chaos has prompted the secretary-general of the United Nations to ask former Nigerian leader Obasanjo to intervene, since the elderly African statesman is known to be friendly to Kenyatta and Odinga, according to published reports.

“It’s important that Kenyans continue to uphold the 2010 Constitution and that the opposition carry their political activities within the confines of the law,” the UN spokesman said. “We would like to stress the importance of Kenyans to work together, strengthen governance, advance inclusive development and uphold human rights and the rule of law.”

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Paul Stevens

Paul Stevens is a researcher, media issues analyst and senior contributor with Globe Afrique.

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