11 October 2017
By Chidiebere Ejike
The opposition leader in the forthcoming Kenya election, Raila Odinga, Tuesday, announced that he has withdrawn his candidacy for the fresh presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court, saying the election commission has not made changes to avoid the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 disclosed to supporters that there is no intention on the part of Kenya’s election commission, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, IEBC, to undertake any changes before the new vote.
He noted that the commission had “stonewalled meaningful deliberations” on reforms to ensure the election is credible. He also warned that the upcoming vote could be worse than the first one and called for countrywide protests to urge reforms to the commission ahead of the new election.
In response, IEBC said on Twitter that it was meeting with its legal team and will communicate way forward. The commission also tweeted a letter it sent on Tuesday to Odinga’s opposition coalition saying that “we have taken the necessary steps to guarantee the integrity of the fresh presidential elections.”
However, the incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta said the election will be held despite Odinga’s withdrawal.
“There is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot. We have no problem going back to elections. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time,” Kenyatta told a rally in the southern town of Voi, speaking in Kiswahili.
Recall that in the poll conducted on August 8, Kenyatta was declared the winner with 54 per cent of the vote and Odinga got 45 per cent according to the electoral commission.
However, when Odinga challenged the result legally, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, David Maraga annulled the election result saying that IEBC had not followed the constitution and had failed to conduct a legitimate election.
He added that the election was mared by “irregularities and illegalities” especially in the transmission of results from polling stations to the national tally centre and results were therefore “invalid, null and void.” The court ordered new election. The electoral body afterwards set a new date of October 26.
Odinga is widely believed to be taking his last shot at the presidency after the 72-year-old also faced off with Kenyatta in a 2013 election marred by allegations of vote-rigging. Uhuru Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, while Raila Odinga is the son of Kenya’s first vice president, Jaramogi, Oginga Odinga.