Clashes erupt as Kenya votes in election rerun

Africa
By The Star

On Election Eve, Opposition leader Raila Odinga rebranded NASA as a national resistance movement to defy "illegitimate government" and boycott goods and services benefiting "dictatorship".

The former Prime Minister yesterday repeated his call for a nationwide boycott of today's "sham' presidential rerun but called on his supporters not to demonstrate, lest they are massacred by a "blood-thirsty regime".

Hold prayers away from polling stations or stay home, he told a cheering crowd at Uhuru Park.

Yesterday, for the first time in its history. The Supreme Court failed to muster a quorum, prompting furious speculation as to why.

Only two of seven justices, including CJ Malaga, were present and unable to rule on a petition to postpone the election today.

Meanwhile, security was tightened countrywide, especially in opposition strongholds and hotspots where opposition supporters have pledged there will be no polling.

The IEBC said it was ready, but in some places, there were far too few officers because they had been threatened by opposition youths.

Raila said the resistance movement will "strive to restore a government established in compliance with the Constitution".

The resistance will convene a People's Assembly to chart the way forward and press for "a fresh, free, fair presidential election organized in 90 days," he said.

The rerun is coup meant to unlawfully propel President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP Ruto to power he and other opposition leaders said.

On Friday, Raila said, the resistance will "embark on a campaign of defiance of illegitimate governmental authority and non-corporation with all its organs".

"We will not respect Uhuru, Ruto, regional commissioners, county commissioners and all that trash," he said.

By attempting to establish an unlawful government, Uhuru and Ruto have "invited us to exercise our sovereign power directly as enshrined in the very first Article of our Constitution. The invitation is accepted,” Raila said.

“From tomorrow, the duty of every citizen who respects our Constitution is to restrict dictatorship and to fight to restore a government established in compliance with the Constitution. We are transforming the NASA coalition into a resistance movement," he said.

President Kenyatta addressed the nation later, calmly calling for peace, order, and healing, making no mention of Odinga.

However, National Assembly and Senate majority leaders Aden Duale and Kipchumba Murkomen condemned Raila's comments, saying he was planning to clinch power through violence.

“Raila finally formed an armed resistance movement to take power through the bullet, not the ballot. Sohe's using the barrel of the gun to ascend to power. Sad day for NASA."

Murkomen said, “It's time NASA governors, senators, MPs and MCAs boycott salaries paid by Uhuru's government, resign and wait for NASA elections after 90 days”.
Raila accused Uhuru and Ruto of defying the Supreme Court by participating in a poll that would only guarantee them victory. On September 1, the court nullified Uhuru's win, saying the process was riddled with irregularities and illegalities.

The ex-PM, joined by NASA co-principals Moses Wetang'ula and Musalia Mudavadi, said they would boycott goods and services from companies that benefit the government.

Raila accused Uhuru and Ruto of trying to create dictatorship by subverting the constitution and democracy achieved by the country's founding forefathers.

“We shall convene our People's Assembly for the purposes of charting our way forward back to constitutionalism and democracy. We shall mobilize all progressive forces in the country to ensure that a fresh, free and fair presidential election is organized within 90 days,” Raila said.

He accused the Jubilee administration of trying to use its "superiority complex" in Parliament to change contentious election laws, violating international best practices and "snatching away" the achievements made by the Constitution.

“We are aware the bloodthirsty regime is planning to use every excuse to massacre our people. Instead, we ask Kenyans who value democracy and justice to hold vigil prayers away from the polling stations or stay at home,” Raila said.

He cautioned his supporters against profiling people along tribal lines, saying that tribalism was used by the country's colonizer to divide people.

“Do not castigate any person or ethnic community. Do not look at your brother and sister with suspicion. He or she is a victim, as are you. Do not insult or assault them. Help them open their eyes to see the great country you aspire for,” he said.

Wetang'ula said they had resolved to kick off the third liberation of the country, adding that the Jubilee administration has been intimidating other arms of government to retain power.

He claimed the five Supreme Court justices failed to turn up for a crucial sitting yesterday after being intimidated.

Wetang'ula alleged Jubilee has managed to use IEBC to create unofficial polling stations in the country and ensure controversial Al- Ghurair publishing company prints the ballot papers. NASA insisted it must go, as must IT firm OT-Morpho and key members of the IEBC Secretariat.

Raila withdrew from the presidential contest on October 10, saying the election could not be free, fair or credible. He called for a totally new election and nominations, not a rerun, in 90 days.

Uhuru has since maintained there is no question of his legitimacy and he is not a caretaker President.

“If we get 70+1 votes, will anybody question the legitimacy of my victory? Don't be misled by speculation. This time around, we will get 70+1 votes, whether he [Raila] will be on the ballot or not,” Uhuru said.

"There will be no dialogue with Raila until after elections. The government will not be formed in the boardroom. The people of Kenya will elect the government they choose," Uhuru said.

Yesterday, electoral agency chairman Wafula Chebukati declared, "Fellow Kenyans, I wish to announce to you today on behalf of the IEBC that based on assurances given to this commission by the relevant authorities, the elections as scheduled, will go on tomorrow, October 26 and all polling stations will open at 6 am and close at 5 pm."

In the past, he said he could not guarantee a credible election given the poisonous political environment.

While there are no plans to close any polling stations, he said if trouble erupts, voting could be postponed.