Kenya Elections: Defeated Candidate Raila Odinga Calls for Opposition Protests
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has harshly criticised an election rerun in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner.
He said it should be scrapped in favour of yet another vote and that the opposition would continue to protest in the streets.
Mr Odinga’s first public comments since election results were announced on Monday suggested Kenya’s political and ethnic tensions are unlikely to dissipate soon.
The opposition leader, who boycotted the October 26 vote, hinted his supporters could appeal to the nation’s highest court to nullify a presidential election for the second time since August.
“We shall see to it that we conduct a free, fair and credible presidential election as ordered by the Supreme Court,” Mr Odinga said on Tuesday.
“It’s in our best interests that we do so sooner rather than later.”
The court invalidated the August 8 election in which Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner after finding what it called “irregularities and illegalities”.
Mr Kenyatta has said he expects legal challenges to the latest election, which he won with an overwhelming 98% of the vote because he faced no significant challenge.
The opposition also plans “economic boycotts, peaceful procession, picketing and other legitimate forms of protest”, said Mr Odinga, emphasising that demonstrations would be peaceful.
However, his supporters have often clashed with police in Nairobi slums and opposition areas in western Kenya since the latest election.
At least nine people have been killed.
The opposition accuses security forces of using excessive force, while the government has said Mr Odinga’s camp has incited violence.
“If there is no justice for the people, let there be no peace for the government,” Mr Odinga said on Tuesday.
The unrest has highlighted divisions that continue to affect East Africa’s economic hub.
Business and religious leaders pleaded for calm in a country weary of tension.
The head of a Kenyan business association, Nderitu Mwangi of the Hood Group, said companies have suffered big losses because of the turmoil.
The vote has left the country “grossly divided along ethnic and political lines”, The National Council of Churches of Kenya said.
Kenya’s election commission has said the turnout of registered voters in the October 26 election was about 40%, compared with roughly twice that in the August balloting.
Mr Odinga remained on the ballot and still got 73,000 votes, or just under 1%.
In August, he received 45% to Mr Kenyatta’s 54%.
Voting did not take place in two dozen of Kenya’s 290 constituencies due to opposition protests, although the election commission cited an election law that says final results can be announced if the outcome is not affected by the tally in areas that did not vote.
Mr Odinga, who is from the Luo ethnic group, and Mr Kenyatta, who is a Kikuyu, also faced off in a 2013 election similarly marred by allegations of vote-rigging.
The opposition leader also ran unsuccessfully in 2007, and ethnic-fuelled animosity after that vote killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes.
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