Kenya’s electoral process has once again been thrown into chaos—the country’s election authorities have indefinitely delayed attempts to hold the vote in certain opposition areas, Reuters reported early Saturday morning. The repeat presidential vote was called by the Supreme Court after the results of the August election were successfully challenged by Opposition Leader Raila Odinga.
Mr. Odinga called for opposition supporters to boycott Thursday’s vote, saying it could not be free or fair, as no reforms have been implemented since the last election. An election commissioner, Rosalyn Akombe, fled Kenya for the U.S last week reportedly after receiving death threats. She claimed that the commission wouldn’t be able to carry out a fair election.
Opposition supporters have attempted to block the vote, setting up barricades and clashing with government supporters and the police. At least five have been killed in the violence since Thursday’s vote. Many more are likely injured.
Voting has not yet taken place in four counties, where residents blocked roads and prevented election officials and police from entering polling stations. No ballots have been cast in 20 of Kenya’s 290 parliamentary constituencies.
In Kisumu county, an opposition stronghold in the west of the country, all major roads have been blocked. In Kisumu City, where not a single voting office has opened, police have used tear gas and shots have been fired, according to BBC Afrique. The Governor of Kisumu, Peter Anyang Nyong’o, condemned the violence, announcing Thursday that 29 had been injured and 2 killed in clashes with police and government militias.
Meanwhile unrest broke out in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, represented by Mr. Odinga in parliament for 20 years. Protestors, some armed with machetes, set up barricades and clashed with riot police as they attempted to prevent the vote. Police spent much of Friday in the capital struggling to keep supporters of the opposing sides apart.
Voting has gone forward largely without incident where incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee party has strong support. Mr. Kenyatta has won over 97% of the vote counted so far according to local media, but turnout is estimated to be under 35%. In contrast, the annulled August 8th poll gave Mr. Kenyatta 54% to Mr. Odinga’s 45% with turnout just below 80%.
The way forward remains uncertain. Mr. Kenyatta had surely hoped to receive a broad mandate in the election, but low turnout and violence has marred its legitimacy. It remains to be seen whether this vote will be declared legitimate, and if another vote will be held. Regardless, a negotiated agreement between the government and opposition may be the only way to end the standoff.
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