Kenyan opposition leader isolated as election unrest subsides
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.