Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga withdraws from presidential election re-run
Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has shocked the country by withdrawing from a fresh presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court.
He said the election commission has not made changes needed to avoid the “irregularities and illegalities” cited in the nullified August vote.
Mr Odinga’s legal challenge led the court to nullify the election won by Uhuru Kenyatta. It was the first time a court had overturned the results of a presidential election in Africa, and the court ordered a new election, set for October 26.
The election commission has “no intention” of making any changes before the new vote, Mr Odinga told supporters.
He said the commission had “stonewalled meaningful deliberations” on reforms to ensure the election is credible, and warned that the upcoming vote could be more badly run than the first one.
Mr Kenyatta said the October 26 election will go ahead despite Mr Odinga’s withdrawal.
He told supporters: “There is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot.”
The election commission tweeted a letter it sent on Tuesday to Mr Odinga’s opposition coalition saying: “We have taken the necessary steps to guarantee the integrity of the fresh presidential elections.”
Mr Odinga had called for countrywide protests to demand reforms to the commission ahead of the new election.
The Supreme Court on September 1 nullified Mr Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing illegalities in the vote and the election commission’s refusal to allow scrutiny of its computer system.
Justices said that by failing to allow scrutiny of the computers, the commission failed to disprove Mr Odinga’s claim that hackers infiltrated the servers and manipulated the vote in favour of Mr Kenyatta.
Mr Kenyatta has said he does not want changes to the election commission. His Jubilee Party has instead used its parliamentary majority to push for changes in the electoral law ahead of the October 26 vote.
The opposition says the changes are meant to make the transmission of election results a manual process that would have fewer safeguards against electoral fraud and would make it more difficult for the Supreme Court to annul an election.
“The only election the Jubilee administration is interested in is one that it must win, even unlawfully,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Kenyatta has said that even if Mr Odinga won the fresh election, the ruling party in parliament would impeach him.