Opposition leader withdraws, roiling Kenyan election


By Tom Odoula | Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday shocked the country by withdrawing his candidacy for the fresh presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court, saying the election commission has not made changes to avoid the “irregularities and illegalities” cited in the nullified August vote.

Odinga’s legal challenge of vote-rigging had led the court to nullify the election that President Uhuru Kenyatta won with 54 percent of ballots. It was the first time a court had overturned the results of a presidential election in Africa. The court on Sept. 1 ordered a new election within 60 days. It is set for Oct. 26.

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Odinga’s withdrawal created confusion in East Africa’s largest economy, with observers wondering how the new election might go forward.

Kenyatta said the election will go ahead, telling supporters that “there is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot.”

The election commission said on Twitter it was meeting with its legal team and “will communicate way forward.”

Odinga told supporters that Kenya’s election commission had “stonewalled meaningful deliberations” on reforms to ensure a credible vote. He warned that the upcoming election could be run worse than the first one, and he called for countrywide protests to urge reforms.

In response, the election commission tweeted a letter it sent Tuesday to Odinga’s opposition coalition saying “we have taken the necessary steps to guarantee the integrity of the fresh presidential elections.”

Analysts said Odinga’s withdrawal brings “constitutional uncertainty.”

Based on the Supreme Court’s decision, Kenyatta cannot run alone on the ballot or be sworn in automatically, said Ndungu Wainaina, executive director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict. The court ordered a fresh election …read more

Source:: The Mercury News

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