Op­po­si­tion leader: Kenya mov­ing to­ward 'out­right dic­ta­tor­ship'

Observer on Saturday - - News - AFP

– Kenyan op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga sharply crit­i­cised the role of Western diplo­mats and elec­tion ob­servers in the re­cent pres­i­den­tial vote and warned on Thurs­day that the coun­try is mov­ing to­ward "out­right dic­ta­tor­ship."

Odinga boy­cotted the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion held in Septem­ber and has termed it a "sham." In­cum­bent Uhuru Keny­atta se­cured 98 per cent of the vote.

Eight days be­fore the elec­tion, "the chair­man of the elec­toral com­mis­sion pub­licly, on a live tele­vi­sion, said he was not able to de­liver a free and fair elec­tion on that date," Odinga


told a con­fer­ence or­gan­ised by a think tank. "But in a stand that has as­tounded Kenyans, Western en­voys two days later an­nounced that they be­lieved the com­mis­sion could hold a cred­i­ble poll and sup­ported that highly con­tro­ver­sial elec­tion," he said. Odinga said he came to Wash­ing­ton with the mes­sage that more en­gage­ment is needed "to as­sist the en­voys based in Nairobi." "The en­voys' ef­forts up to now have not suc­ceeded in de­fus­ing the cri­sis," and "have some­times con­trib­uted to the prob­lem." Ac­cord­ing to the 72-yearold op­po­si­tion leader, "Kenya is hurtling to­wards an out­right dic­ta­tor­ship," the re­sult of in­ter­na­tional poli­cies that "ex­clu­sively fo­cus on se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity," which he said diplo­mats in Nairobi in­cor­rectly think "only Keny­atta can de­liver."

In re­al­ity, the elec­toral cri­sis is "a recipe for rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion and ex­trem­ism," he said.

Even if the coun­try's Supreme Court again in­val­i­dates the vote as it did with polls held in Au­gust, fur­ther steps are needed.

"We need to have... an in­terim ar­range­ment sim­i­lar at what hap­pened in South Africa, where both sides ap­pointed a team to man­age mat­ters" on "an in­terim ba­sis to make sure (changes) take place be­fore a mean­ing­ful elec­tion is or­gan­ised," Odinga said.

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