Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta snubbed a crisis meeting called by the chairman of the electoral commission on Thursday and instead spent the day in Western Kenya campaigning ahead of presidential elections which will be re-run next week.
Chairman Wafula Chebukati instead held a meeting with opposition leader Raila Odinga who has pulled out of the presidential race, indicating that there is no prospect of a credible poll.
On Wednesday, Chebukati warned that he could not guarantee a credible election due to political interference in the commission’s work further deepening the political crisis in the East African nation.
Chebukati reached out to all political leaders to help end the political crisis in the country.
“Once the Kenyan people see that their leaders are talking and putting Kenya first, then we can douse the tension in the air,” says Chebukati.
On Thursday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it had “regrettably rescheduled” the meeting.
No reasons or new date were given.
After a closed door meeting between Odinga and Chebukati, the opposition leader called for talks on the political deadlock, but dismissed claims that he is after a power-sharing deal.
“I am not going to fall down to cheap propaganda being perpetuated by people drunk with power,” says Odinga.
Odinga has called for mass protests on election day, indicating that there will be no polls next Thursday.
In parts of Western Kenya, which is an opposition stronghold election officials have come under attack from opposition supporters who are opposed to the polls.
President Kenyatta insists the polls will go ahead:
“It is your right to say that you are not standing and nobody will deny you that right but you have no right to deny those who are preparing our nation for an election.”
The statement by Chebukati that he could not guarantee a credible vote seemed to embolden Odinga to stay off the ballot.
Raila Odinga says: “That basically confirmed our position when we pulled out of the race two weeks ago, that basically confirmed what we have been saying that we do not see a free and fair election taking place on the 26th, the signs were there for all to see.”
The October 26 polls follow the annulling of President Kenyatta’s victory on grounds that the August elections were marred by irregularities and illegalities.
According to the Kenyan constitution, fresh elections must held within 60 days of the ruling.
That period lapses at the end of this month.
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– By Sarah Kimani