Poll win dis­puted amid call for di­a­logue

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

NAIROBI — Kenya’s op­po­si­tion party has dis­missed the vic­tory of Uhuru Keny­atta in the re­run of the coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Kenya’s In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­ary Com­mis­sion de­clared Keny­atta the win­ner of the vote on Mon­day with 7.48 mil­lion, or 98 per­cent, of the to­tal votes cast, with his National Su­per Al­liance ri­val, Raila Odinga, only man­ag­ing 73,228 votes, or about 1 per­cent.

Kenyans went to the polls on Oct 26 after the Supreme Court nul­li­fied the Aug 8 pres­i­den­tial polls, cit­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Odinga had with­drawn from the fresh race 16 days to the elec­tion, say­ing the IEBC had failed to ini­ti­ate re­forms or fire its staffers who he ac­cused of bungling the Aug 8 vote.

Odinga called the new elec­tion a “mean­ing­less ex­er­cise” and said the op­po­si­tion plans to pur­sue “eco­nomic boy­cotts, peace­ful pro­ces­sion, pick­et­ing and other le­git­i­mate forms of protest”.

Odinga dis­missed the 39 per­cent voter turnout re­ported by the IEBC, al­leg­ing that no more than 3.5 mil­lion Kenyans came out to vote in the re­run.

The op­po­si­tion leader also an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of the Peo­ple’s As­sem­bly, which he said is the ve­hi­cle through which the coali­tion will ex­er­cise the duty of restor­ing democ­racy, con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism and the rule of law.

After the re­sult was an­nounced, Keny­atta has promised to abide by the Con­sti­tu­tion if his vic­tory in the re­run is chal­lenged in court.

Keny­atta said de­spite the fact that his major com­peti­tor went to court de­mand­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion be nul­li­fied and was granted that an­nul­ment, Odinga chose to ig­nore the rest of the rul­ing which or­dered a fresh elec­tion in 60 days con­ducted by the IEBC.

“There­after he chose to aban­don the fresh poll. You can­not choose the op­por­tu­nity to ex­er­cise a right and ab­scond from the con­se­quences of that choice,” Keny­atta said.

Euro­pean ob­servers and the African Union, mean­while, urged lead­ers to pro­mote national heal­ing after the divisive cam­paigns after six peo­ple were killed in vi­o­lence be­tween po­lice and pro­test­ers.

China’s For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son Hua Chun­y­ing said on Tues­day that China hopes the rel­e­vant par­ties will prop­erly ad­dress their dif­fer­ences and en­sure national peace and sta­bil­ity after the elec­tion.

“As a good friend, part­ner and brother of Kenya, China fully re­spects the choice made by the Kenyans,” Hua told a reg­u­lar press brief­ing.

On Mon­day, US Am­bas­sador to Kenya Robert Godec called for an all-in­clu­sive di­a­logue to help re­solve the cri­sis and said “we are deeply con­cerned by reports of ex­ces­sive use of force by the po­lice”.

Staff have aban­doned the camp, with elec­tric­ity and wa­ter sup­plies cut, refugee ad­vo­cates said. There have been reports of loot­ing.

Ira­nian refugee Behrouz Boochani, who has lodged an af­fi­davit in PNG’s Supreme Court try­ing to pre­vent the camp’s clo­sure, said ev­ery­one was afraid after a rest­less night.

“There is not wa­ter, power and food. Even the toi­lets do not work,” he tweeted on Wed­nes­day. “Peo­ple gath­er­ing in stress. Any time we ex­pect that some­one will at­tack us.”

Asy­lum-seek­ers who try to reach Aus­tralia by boat are sent to two re­mote Pa­cific pro­cess­ing cen­ters — PNG’s Manus Is­land and Nauru.

They are barred from set­tling in Aus­tralia, even if found to be gen­uine refugees.

They have the op­tion of re­turn­ing home, mov­ing to the Nauru camp, ap­ply­ing to be re­set­tled in a third coun­try like Cam­bo­dia or the United States, or make a life for them­selves in PNG.

Aus­tralian Greens sen­a­tor Nick McKim was on Manus Is­land and said the tran­si­tion fa­cil­i­ties were not ready, spark­ing a fu­ri­ous re­buke from Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton, who ac­cused him of spread­ing false in­for­ma­tion.

McKim re­turned fire, telling broad­caster ABC, “I’m ac­tu­ally the one here on the ground”.

Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop urged those re­fus­ing to leave to do so, say­ing it made “no sense” for them to stay.

“The al­ter­na­tive ac­com­mo­da­tion ... is pro­vid­ing all the es­sen­tial ser­vices, in­clud­ing food and wa­ter and elec­tric­ity and med­i­cal sup­plies,” she told Sky News.

She added that the PNG gov­ern­ment “was in charge of law and or­der and se­cu­rity and I un­der­stand they have this mat­ter in hand”.

PNG Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Petrus Thomas moved to dis­pel fears that those re­fus­ing to leave would be re­moved forcibly.

“We are not go­ing to move the refugees by force, it’s go­ing to be a vol­un­tary move­ment by refugees and non-refugees out of Manus Re­gional Pro­cess­ing Cen­tre,” he told the Post-Courier news­pa­per on Tues­day.

SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV / TASS NEWS AGENCY

A vet­eri­nar­ian ex­am­ines a dog at the Zoovet ve­teri­nary clinic in Moscow, Rus­sia.

Raila Odinga, Kenyan o p p os i t i o n leader

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