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Odinga had withdrawn from the fresh race 16 days to the election, saying the IEBC had failed to initiate reforms or fire its staffers who he accused of bungling the Aug 8 vote.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