As Kenyans Vote Today, Odinga Calls For Boycott

Raila Odinga (middle)

Kenyans are filing out today to cast their ballots in the re-run presidential election, following the Supreme court annulment of the first vote conducted on 8 August.

The fresh election however may end a major fiasco if supporters of the opposition leader,  Raila Odinga heeded his boycott call.

Odinga, who has withdrawn from the race,  has urged Kenyans to stay at home  and “hold vigils and prayers away from polling stations or just stay at home”.

The election is the chaotic climax of a two-month political drama that began when the Supreme Court overturned the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in the August 8 elections.

The court cited “irregularities” and mismanagement by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

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The repeat election is going ahead after clearing myriad legal and political hurdles, but anxiety remains high over the unpredictable consequences of a vote that will take place without Odinga.

Opposition protests have resulted in at least 40 people being killed, mostly at the hands of police and in poor opposition strongholds, according to rights groups.

Odinga said supporters should stay away for the “bloodthirsty regime is planning to use every excuse to massacre our people.”

In Odinga’s western stronghold of Kisumu, one protester was shot in the hip on Wednesday, according to an AFP photographer, as demonstrators engaged in running battles with police.

Protester Gordon Oyeke vowed to stay at home for the election.

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“We don’t want elections, we will stay at home. Why fight for something we don’t want and risk getting hit by bullets by the criminal police,” he told AFP.

Kenyatta called for peace on election day, and said this chance for a fresh election would help the country cement its democracy.

“Tomorrow (Thursday) we have yet another opportunity to show the world that we are a free, modern state preoccupied by striving for unity, shared progress, peace and shared prosperity,” he said in a televised address.

Election chief Wafula Chebukati — who said last week he could not guarantee a credible election — appeared to soften his stance on Wednesday after “assurances” from security officials and authorities and “progress” within his divided commission.

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“The election as scheduled will go ahead tomorrow, the 26th of October,” he said.

The final legal hurdle came in the form of a last-minute Supreme Court petition to delay the election.

But the hearing was unable to go ahead after only two of seven judges showed up in court. At least five judges are needed to form a quorum.

Chief Justice David Maraga said one judge was ill and out of the country, one could not get a flight to Nairobi and two were “not able to come to court,” he said.

*With AFP report

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Hamilton Nwosa

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