Kenya’s re-run election was scheduled for October after the country’s Supreme court shockingly annulled the August elections that saw incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta emerging as the winner.
In Kenya’s re-run election, Raila Odinga was meant to go head to head with President Kenyatta with all the other candidates asked to sit it out. Raila Odinga has, however, pulled out of the election.
He said that he hopes that his withdrawal will give the electoral commission enough time to introduce reforms that will help deliver a more credible election.
President Kenyatta has said that he is ready to proceed with the new vote as planned and Kenya’s deputy President William Ruto has called on the commission to declare Mr Kenyatta president as a result of Mr Odinga’s announcement.
In his announcement, Raila Odinga said;
“We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC [electoral commission] to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel… All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one.”
He said that his decision was made “considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large.” The belief in Mr. Odinga’s party is that the election will have to be cancelled as a result of his withdrawal.
This is then meant to allow for “adequate time to undertake the reforms necessary to conduct an election that is in strict conformity with the constitution, the relevant laws and the constitution”.
President Kenyatta spoke at a rally in the southern town of Voi, saying;
“We have no problem going back to elections. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time.”
“We are also telling him it is the people’s right to choose their leader. It is their sovereign right to choose their leader of choice.”
The annulment of the election that had declared President Kenyatta the victor was certainly a win for Raila Odinga. It vindicated the claims he made challenging the election but the changes he pushed for as conditions for his participation in Kenya’s re-run election were not met mostly because of contractual agreements with the companies providing key services for the election.
That combined with the fact that he would most likely have faced a defeat the second time considering President Kenyatta’s party won a majority of MPs in both houses of parliament, may have contributed to his decision to sit the election out.
There is still a lot of confusion on what exactly the legal consequences of his withdrawal are but that will no doubt continue to become clearer in the days to come.
The real losers here seem to be Kenyans who are most likely tired of all this political drama but who have a vested interest in the eventual outcome. An opposition senator, James Orengo, has called on people to protest on Wednesday, using the slogan “no reform, no elections”.