Kenyan opposition boss Raila Odinga has withdrawn from the court-ordered presidential election rerun saying the process is corrupted and will not result in a fair election.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced Tuesday, “The Commission has received a letter by Rt. Hon Raila Odinga and Hon. Kalonzo Musyoka seeking to withdraw their candidature in the fresh presidential elections slated for October 26, 2017. We are reviewing the said letter with support from Legal Counsels and will advise on the way forward in due course.”
It remains to be seen whether the election commission now will declare Uhuru Kenyatta president, considering him unopposed, or go ahead to hold the poll without Raila, or perhaps seek talks with NASA to persuade Raila to return back to the contest.
Raila, who leads the National Super Alliance (NASA), has fiercely criticized the election board for failing to implement reforms ahead of the rerun ordered by the supreme court. “We at NASA have insisted that the fresh election ordered be held to the standard ordered by the Supreme Court – that is in strict conformity. We have provided a checklist of what we deem to be the irreducible minimum changes to ensure compliance,” he said at a press conference Tuesday.
But IEBC itself says it responded point-by-point to the opposition concerns, releasing a list of these via social media on Tuesday.
Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent and Jubilee party candidate, mocked Raila Odinga following his announcement of withdrawal from the race. “From the day the court said we would go back to the election, our opponent has been coming up with excuses,” he said at a rally.
“They are always at press conferences. But we are here to ask Kenyans to give us more votes again,” he added.
“We are however ready for the election. It is the people’s right to participate in an election to choose their leader. The people will decide. There is no constitutional clause stating Raila must be on the ballot for us to have an election,” Uhuru said, as quoted by The Star, a Kenyan political newspaper.
For his part, Raila called Uhuru’s claimed majority in the earlier presidential poll fraudulent, saying, “We will not allow autocracy back into Kenya.” He also said they will continue with countrywide anti-IEBC protests following his withdrawal from the repeat presidential election.
NASA protesters are expected to gather in Uhuru Park in Nairobi on Wednesday before proceeding to IEBC headquarters.