Kenyan op­po­si­tion leader iso­lated as elec­tion un­rest sub­sides

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

NAIROBI: Kenya was largely quiet yes­ter­day fol­low­ing vi­o­lence in the af­ter­math of polls, as op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga came un­der grow­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to con­cede de­feat.

The elec­tion com­mis­sion on Fri­day de­clared in­cum­bent Uhuru Keny­atta win­ner of the pres­i­den­tial poll by 1.4 mil­lion votes. In­ter­na­tional ob­servers said last Tues­day’s elec­tion was largely fair but Odinga dis­putes the re­sult, say­ing it was rigged. He has not pro­vided doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence.

There have been at least 24 deaths in elec­tion-re­lated un­rest, a rights group said on Sat­ur­day. But by yes­ter­day the vi­o­lence ap­peared to have largely abated, to the re­lief of Kenyans who feared a re­peat of the vi­o­lence that fol­lowed 2007’s dis­puted elec­tion.

Around 1200 peo­ple were killed then and 600 000 dis­placed af­ter Odinga called for po­lit­i­cal protests that sparked vi­o­lence. Re­gional trade was paral­ysed and Kenya’s econ­omy – the re­gion’s big­gest – took years to re­cover.

This time, diplo­mats and re­gional lead­ers are urg­ing Odinga, a for­mer po­lit­i­cal pris­oner, to con­cede. Their united stance leaves the 72-yearold op­po­si­tion leader iso­lated if he chooses to main­tain the al­le­ga­tions of elec­tion fraud and pro­claim him­self pres­i­dent.

Kenya’s al­lies say the elec­tion was largely fair.

“I want to con­grat­u­late Uhuru Keny­atta,” said Fed­er­ica Mogherini, for­eign min­is­ter for the Euro­pean Union, which con­ducted more than $3 bil­lion (R40bn) worth of trade with Kenya last year.

“In line with the AU, the EU ex­pects the op­po­si­tion to re­spect the re­sults and to use le­gal means avail­able for ap­peals and com­plaints.”

A Western diplo­mat said al­lies were not in­ter­ested in re­vis­it­ing the type of power-shar­ing deals that ended the post-elec­tion vi­o­lence a decade ago.

“If you have ev­i­dence that the elec­tion was rigged, pro­duce it… the Na­tional Su­per Al­liance (Nasa) has been chang­ing its po­si­tion in quite sig­nif­i­cant ways in the past week,” said the diplo­mat, re­fer­ring to Odinga’s op­po­si­tion coali­tion. “Most of the stuff they are al­leg­ing is not ac­cu­rate.”

Ini­tially, the coali­tion al­leged the elec­toral server had been hacked, and pro­duced 50 pages of com­puter logs that se­cu­rity ex­perts said were in­con­clu­sive at best.

They later said a se­cret source within the elec­toral board had passed them the true elec­tion re­sults. That two-page doc­u­ment was de­bunked by the elec­tion com­mis­sion that pointed out ba­sic math­e­mat­i­cal er­rors.

Later, Odinga said paper forms from each polling sta­tion scanned and up­loaded to the elec­tion com­mis­sion web­site to sup­port its elec­tronic tally were fake.

He has not pro­duced al­ter­na­tive forms.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga greets sup­port­ers as he ar­rives to ad­dress a rally in Kib­era slum, Nairobi.

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