The Latest: US urges calm ahead of Kenya’s repeat election
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Latest on Kenya’s election (all times local):
The United States says it is deeply concerned about Kenya’s repeat election on Thursday and the efforts of “both parties to interfere with and undermine the independent operation of the electoral commission, the judiciary and other essential institutions.”
A State Department statement urges Kenyans to remain calm and reject violence, and it condemns Tuesday’s shooting of the driver for the Supreme Court’s deputy chief justice.
Kenya’s opposition leader has called on supporters to boycott the vote, and the president says security forces will be deployed nationwide to prevent what he calls a slide into anarchy.
The U.S. statement says that “now is not the time for strife to divide Kenya.”
Supporters of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga burned tires in Nairobi’s Kibera slum area to protest the repeat presidential elections set for Thursday. Odinga urged his supporters to form a “resistance movement” and to boycott the elections.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says security forces are deployed nationwide to ensure order during Thursday’s election.
In a televised address Wednesday, Kenyatta urged Kenyans to vote but he also said the rights of those who don’t want to vote are protected under the law. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has urged followers to boycott the election, saying it won’t be credible.
Kenyatta says the election offers Kenyans an opportunity to “show the world” that their nation is united. He says he wants people to go home after they vote and that nobody should break the law.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is vowing to turn his political coalition into a “resistance movement” and is urging supporters to boycott Thursday’s repeat presidential election.
Election officials say the vote will go ahead even after the electoral commission chairman last week said he could not guarantee it would be credible.
Odinga’s legal challenge led the Supreme Court to nullify the August election over irregularities and order a new one. Odinga later shocked Kenyans by withdrawing from the new vote, saying electoral reforms have not been made.
Kenya’s electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati has said repeat presidential elections will go ahead on Thursday claiming a high court decision earlier in the day found no illegality in the process of selecting poll officials at the constituency level and he got assurances from the police and the president over security fears.
Chebukati said the Independent Police Oversight Authority had assured him of action against police officers who brutalized peaceful demonstrators. Human rights groups have accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of using the police to crush opposition demonstrations calling for reforms at the electoral commission and protesting the results of the August presidential election. At least 67 people were killed in demonstrations following the announcement that Kenyatta had won a second term in office.
Chebukati denied that an earlier ruling by High Court Judge George Odunga found process of selecting electoral officials to run Thursday polls at the constituency level was illegal.
Last month the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing irregularities and illegalities in the vote. Opposition leader Raila Odinga is boycotting the repeat elections, saying the electoral commission has not implemented adequate reforms to guarantee credible elections.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s lawyer says it was not by accident that the Supreme Court did not have a quorum to hear an urgent appeal to postpone the Thursday’s repeat presidential elections.
James Orengo said President Uhuru Kenyatta tried to prevent the court hearing by declaring public holidays on Wednesday and Thursday.
Orengo said that move didn’t work because Chief Justice David Maraga ordered the courts to hear election petitions during the holidays. Then Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu felt threatened when her driver was seriously wounded in a shooting. Mwilu did not show up for the last-minute hearing.
Mwilu’s driver, a police constable, was shot and seriously wounded Tuesday evening when he went to buy flowers by assailants who tried force him back into the judge’s official car. He had just dropped the justice at her home. Many Kenyans saw this as intimidation of the courts.
Orengo said two justices of the Supreme Court who had dissented when the court ruled 4-2 to nullify Kenyatta’s re-election also did not turn up.
In the end, only two justices showed up at the Supreme Court.
The petition by the three voters was seeking the Supreme Court orders to postpone the Thursday presidential election arguing that not enough had been done to ensure it is credible and it could lead to anarchy.
The opposition leader Raila Odinga is boycotting the election, saying credible elections are not possible. The head of the electoral commission has also said free and fair elections are not possible. President Kenyatta has said he want the election to continue despite the concerns.
Long lines form in Kenyan supermarkets as people stock up on supplies ahead of the tension-filled repeat presidential elections to be held Thursday.
Uncertainty has stalked the fresh presidential elections ordered by the Supreme Court when it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing irregularities and illegalities and the refusal by the electoral commission to allow scrutiny of its servers.
Nairobi resident Cosmas Butunyi said there are long lines of Kenyans who are panic shopping. “I had gone to buy milk for the week and I found long lines so I also decided to stock up,” Butunyi said.
A Kenyan judge has ruled that the appointments of electoral agents at the constituency level for the Thursday’s repeat presidential election are illegal, throwing more uncertainty on the controversial elections.
Judge George Odunga ruled Wednesday that the electoral commission did not follow the law when appointing constituency returning officers and their deputies. Returning officers manage the polling centers at the constituency level and are responsible for the transmission of results to the national tallying centers.
Despite this ruling, the electoral commission announced that the repeat elections will go ahead as planned Thursday with the appointed returning officers and deputies.
Last month the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing irregularities and illegalities in the vote. Opposition leader Raila Odinga had challenged the results claiming hackers had infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system and had manipulated the vote. Odinga is boycotting the repeat elections, saying the electoral commission has not implemented adequate reforms to guarantee credible elections.
Kenya’s electoral commission announced that the repeat presidential elections will go ahead as planned on Thursday. The tweet from the commission said Kenyan electoral officials “will conduct the fresh presidential election 26th October 2017.”
The announcement comes amid rising tensions. Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga is boycotting the elections, saying they will not be free and fair. The electoral commission chairman has said that he cannot guarantee elections that are credible and a member of the electoral board resigned and left the country, saying she feared for her safety.
Kenya police say they will not allow the opposition National Super Alliance to hold its final rally at the capital’s Freedom Park ahead of their boycott of the repeat presidential elections Thursday.
Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said Wednesday the opposition did not have authorization from the county government to use the park. Opposition leader Raila Odinga was to speak to his supporters at the park. He has said he will not participate in the fresh election and has urged supporters not to vote, saying the electoral commission has not implemented enough reforms to ensure a credible vote.
The police ban came as the Supreme Court said it cannot hear an application to delay the vote because it did not have a quorum of judges.
Last month the Supreme Court made a surprise decision to nullify President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing illegalities and irregularities in the vote. The court ordered a fresh election. Opposition and human rights activists claim Kenyatta is using the police force to crush dissent and report that 67 opposition supporters have been killed. Kenyatta insists the vote must be held Thursday because the country’s economy is suffering.
The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges.
Chief Justice David Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing.
The announcement appears to open the way to Thursday’s vote proceeding.
The petition filed by three Kenyans including a human rights activist sought to postpone the repeat presidential election and argued that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible.
Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to hear a petition that seeks to postpone Thursday’s repeat presidential election and argues that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible.
The court shocked Kenya last month when it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in August, citing irregularities and illegalities and the electoral commission’s unwillingness to let court-appointed technicians scrutinize its servers. Opposition leader Raila Odinga had challenged Kenyatta’s victory, claiming hackers had infiltrated the servers and manipulated the vote.
Odinga has said he will not participate in the new election because the electoral commission has not been reformed. Kenyatta has insisted the vote continue.
Hours before Wednesday’s hearing, the driver of the deputy chief justice was shot in what many saw as intimidation of the judiciary.