The Latest: EU vote observers say Kenya damaged by turmoil
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Latest on Kenya’s repeat election (all times local):
European Union election observers say actions by Kenya’s rival political camps have damaged the electoral process and put Kenyans and their institutions in “an extremely difficult position.”
EU observers say in a preliminary statement Tuesday that democracy and the rule of law have been diminished by the election rerun on Oct. 26. President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the overwhelming winner after a boycott by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The EU, whose observer mission was smaller than in the Aug. 8 election that was nullified by the Supreme Court, says there has been intimidation of the judiciary, attacks on the election commission, efforts to disrupt the electoral process and some cases of excessive use of force by police.
However, it says polling and counting was “generally well administered” and that there were some technical improvements.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is calling Thursday’s repeat election a “sham” and says he wants a new vote to be held.
This is Odinga’s first public statement since President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the Oct. 26 election with an overwhelming 98 percent of the vote. Odinga and many supporters boycotted the election, saying no electoral reforms had been made since the Supreme Court nullified the August vote over irregularities.
Odinga calls the new election a “meaningless exercise” and says the opposition plans to pursue “economic boycotts, peaceful procession, picketing and other legitimate forms of protest.”
The head of a Kenyan business association says his compatriots are tired and companies have suffered big losses because of the country’s election turmoil.
Nderitu Mwangi, chairman of the Hood Group, said Tuesday that it’s time to restore East Africa’s economic hub to normalcy after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the repeat election boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Mwangi says the police and judiciary should address “the issue of impunity” and wants businesses to be able to operate without disruptions from violent protests. Some have led to looting and destruction of property.
Police and opposition supporters have clashed since Thursday’s election. At least nine people have died; some were shot by police and several were killed in fighting between rival ethnic groups.
Church leaders in Kenya are calling for tolerance after the disputed presidential election, saying the vote has left the country “grossly divided along ethnic and political lines.”
Peter Karanja, general secretary of The National Council of Churches of Kenya, said Tuesday that opposing factions should engage in dialogue to overcome an “underlying problem that cannot be resolved through elections.”
Flanked by other church leaders, Karanja recommended a constitutional amendment that would restore the post of prime minister in an “expanded executive” aimed at increasing government accountability.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday was declared the winner of Thursday’s repeat election that was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga.
More than 1 million Kenyan primary school students are writing exams this week, bringing some normalcy to this deeply divided country after an election that was boycotted by the main opposition group.
The students on Tuesday started final exams ahead of enrollment in secondary school across Kenya, whose president, Uhuru Kenyatta, was declared the winner of an Oct. 26 vote that opposition leader Raila Odinga said was a sham. The vote was a rerun of an August election that was nullified.
There was concern that recent clashes between police and opposition supporters in some areas could disrupt the exams. There were no reports of unrest early Tuesday.
Kenyatta said the students’ future “should not be disrupted by our politics” and Odinga also sent a message of encouragement to the children.