De­fi­ant Odinga vows not to back down over ‘stolen’ Kenya vote

‘We are not done yet. We will not give up’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Kenya’s op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga vowed yes­ter­day not to back down over an elec­tion he claims was stolen from him and urged his sup­port­ers to boy­cott work un­til he an­nounces his strat­egy next week. The 72-yearold told his sup­port­ers to stay at home and out of the way of po­lice, after the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity be­seeched him to send out a mes­sage to try to halt protests which have left 16 peo­ple dead since Fri­day night.

How­ever, he de­fi­antly vowed to “re­move” the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, who of­fi­cial re­sults show was re-elected by a large mar­gin in last Tues­day’s elec­tion that poll­sters had de­scribed as too close to call. “We had pre­dicted they will steal the elec­tion and that’s what hap­pened. We are not done yet. We will not give up. Wait for the next course of ac­tion which I will an­nounce the day after to­mor­row (Tues­day),” he told a heav­ing crowd of sup­port­ers in Nairobi’s largest slum, Kib­era.

‘No Raila, no peace’

Kib­era res­i­dents climbed on to roof tops and hung off trees to catch sight of Odinga, who was speak­ing for the first time since Keny­atta was de­clared the vic­tor Fri­day in a poll he claims was mas­sively rigged. “No Raila, no peace,” chanted the crowd, us­ing the ral­ly­ing cry heard after Odinga claimed a 2007 elec­tion was stolen from him. The re­sults of that poll led to two months of protests and eth­nic killings which left 1,100 peo­ple dead and 600,000 dis­placed.

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment of the elec­tion re­sults sparked im­me­di­ate protests in Odinga’s strongholds in west­ern Kenya and Nairobi slums in­clud­ing Kib­era and Mathare, which have left at least 16 peo­ple dead ac­cord­ing to an AFP tally. Yes­ter­day the flash­point ar­eas were calm, with signs of life re­turn­ing to nor­mal as shop­keep­ers cau­tiously re­opened after two days of run­ning bat­tles with po­lice, who in some cases fired live am­mu­ni­tion to dis­perse pro­test­ers.

Odinga’s Na­tional Super Al­liance (NASA) coali­tion has in­sisted Odinga was robbed of vic­tory through hack­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tion of an elec­tronic vote tal­ly­ing sys­tem. How­ever calls for them to take their griev­ances to court, while Kenya’s for­eign part­ners heap con­grat­u­la­tions on Keny­atta, have left them iso­lated and un­der mount­ing pres­sure. The elec­tion was Odinga’s fourth failed shot at the pres­i­dency. In 2013 he said the elec­tion was rigged and took his case to the Supreme Court where he lost. This time his party of­fi­cials have said court is not an op­tion. “If he tells us to go on the streets, we will go on the streets. If he wants us to stay home, we will stay stay home,” said 25-year-old hair­dresser Humpfrey Son­gole in Mathare.

‘Ex­er­cise re­straint’

Seven of the dead were killed in clashes in the west of the coun­try, which was also calm yes­ter­day. “These are peo­ple killed in the con­fronta­tions with of­fi­cers since Fri­day night,” said a re­gional po­lice of­fi­cer. Nine peo­ple died in the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing a young girl whose fam­ily said she had been shot in the back while play­ing on a bal­cony in Mathare as po­lice opened fire on pro­test­ers. The Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders (MSF) char­ity said on Twit­ter it had treated 54 wounded peo­ple in its clin­ics.

Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son called on Kenya’s op­po­si­tion to “ex­er­cise re­straint” to en­sure calm. EU for­eign af­fairs chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini also urged the op­po­si­tion “to re­spect the re­sults and to use le­gal means avail­able for ap­peals and com­plaints.” In an­other blow to the op­po­si­tion, lo­cal elec­tion ob­server group ELOG, which de­ployed 8,300 ob­servers and con­ducted a par­al­lel tal­ly­ing op­er­a­tion, de­ter­mined Keny­atta had won with 54 per­cent — the same fig­ure given by the elec­toral com­mis­sion.

‘Zero-sum game’

Odinga, an eth­nic Luo who scored nearly 45 per­cent of votes to Keny­atta’s 54 per­cent, has a huge fol­low­ing no­tably among the poor who are drawn to his plat­form of more eq­ui­table eco­nomic growth. But eth­nic griev­ance is also a key as­pect of his ap­peal. Three of Kenya’s four pres­i­dents have been Kikuyu and the other Kalen­jin, leav­ing Luos feel­ing ex­cluded from power for over half a cen­tury.

Pol­i­tics in Kenya is largely di­vided along tribal lines, and the win­ner-takes-all na­ture of elec­tions has long stoked com­mu­nal di­vi­sions. Crit­ics say the fault­lines that burst into the open in 2007 have not been ad­e­quately dealt with. “The rea­son elec­tions have be­come a trig­ger for vi­o­lence is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween power and pros­per­ity. It is a zero-sum game and win­ning be­comes a life and death mat­ter, hence los­ing is not an op­tion,” the Daily Na­tion wrote in its edi­to­rial.

— AP

NAIROBI: Kenyan op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga ges­tures to thou­sands of sup­port­ers gath­ered in the Mathare area.

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