Kenyan court al­lows Aukot to con­test elec­tions re­run

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE -

NAIROBI — A Kenyan court said yes­ter­day an also­ran can­di­date in Au­gust’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions could con­test this month’s re­run — a day after the main op­po­si­tion leader pulled out.

But the high court rul­ing in favour of Ekuru Aukot failed to dis­pel con­cerns about how a deep­en­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis would play out, as he said he had doubts about stand­ing while op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers gath­ered in re­sponse to calls to demon­strate for elec­toral re­form.

The re­peat elec­tion be­tween in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and chal­lenger Raila Odinga was sched­uled for Oc­to­ber 26, after the Supreme Court an­nulled the original bal­lot — in which Keny­atta was de­clared the win­ner — due to pro­ce­dural ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Odinga said on Tues­day he was with­draw­ing amid con­cerns that the re­run would not be free and fair, re­new­ing calls for a new elec­toral board (IEBC), whose cur­rent mem­bers he blamed for the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, to be ap­pointed.

Fur­ther mud­dy­ing the po­lit­i­cal wa­ters, par­lia­ment passed an amend­ment yes­ter­day to the coun­try’s elec­tion laws, say­ing that if one can­di­date with­drew from a re­peat pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the other one would au­to­mat­i­cally win.

Once the pres­i­dent signed it, the law would im­me­di­ately take ef­fect, said par­lia­men­tary spokesper­son Martin Mu­tua.

The vote was boy­cotted by op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers.

Tues­day’s dec­la­ra­tion by Odinga fed into a mood of un­ease that has stoked cit­i­zens’ fears over a po­ten­tial de­scent into vi­o­lence and blunted growth in East Africa’s rich­est na­tion. Aukot told re­porters out­side the high court that he still had con­cerns about the board and would is­sue a state­ment in a day or two giv­ing clar­ity about his plans.

Jus­tice John Ma­tivo said ear­lier he could “find noth­ing to bar the pe­ti­tioner [Aukot] from con­test­ing the fresh elec­tion”.

The Septem­ber 1 Supreme Court judg­ment that nul­li­fied Keny­atta’s 1,4 mil­lion vote win also stip­u­lated elec­tions had to be held within 60 days.

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