The Latest: US ambassador urges peace in Kenya elections
By The Associated Press
Oct. 23, 2017
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Latest on Kenya before its re-run of the presidential election on Oct. 26 (all times local):
The U.S. ambassador to Kenya has called for an end to attacks on electoral officials ahead of a repeat election scheduled for Thursday in this East African nation.
Speaking on behalf of a group of foreign ambassadors, Robert F. Godec said Monday that the electoral commission had addressed many concerns about its operations since the Supreme Court nullified an Aug. 8 vote because of what it called irregularities and illegalities.
Godec is appealing to Kenyans to "allow the best possible election," though he says he and his colleagues from other embassies recognize that opposition supporters have the right not to vote.
The main opposition group, led by Raila Odinga, has said it will boycott the new vote.
Mobs attacked electoral commission centers in parts of western Kenya last week, disrupting training for electoral officials ahead of the vote.
Kenyan prosecutors have asked police to charge a sister of opposition leader Raila Odinga and an opposition legislator for allegedly disrupting the preparations of electoral officials ahead of this week's planned election.
The office of Kenya's director of public prosecution on Monday asked police to charge Ruth Odinga and legislator Fred Outa with incitement to violence and obstructing electoral officials from conducting their duties.
Mobs attacked electoral commission centers in parts of western Kenya last week, disrupting training for electoral officials ahead of the vote scheduled for Thursday.
Odinga had asked supporters not to participate in the repeat election because he said more reforms to the electoral commission were needed after the Supreme Court annulled an Aug. 8 vote because of what it described as irregularities and illegalities. President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of the August election.
Kenyan officials are asking for restraint ahead of an election Thursday that the main opposition group led by Raila Odinga says it will boycott.
Fred Matiang'i, a Cabinet secretary in charge of internal security, on Monday condemned what he called the "politics of anarchy" and said any Kenyans who choose to demonstrate should do so peacefully.
"Which part of the law allows you to hurl stones at a police station?" Matiang'i said. "There is a clear difference between rioters and demonstrators."
Odinga has called for protests ahead of the vote, which is a re-run of an Aug. 8 election that was nullified by the Supreme Court because of what it said were illegalities and irregularities.
Some opposition supporters rioted after the earlier vote, though human rights groups accused security forces of using excessive force to clamp down on dissent. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say police killed at least 67 opposition supporters after the announcement of the August vote results, which declared President Uhuru Kenyatta to be the winner.
Kenya's main opposition group says its leaders have told Western diplomats that it won't participate in an election re-run planned for Thursday because "it doesn't serve the country's interest."
Musalia Mudavadi, campaign chairman of the opposition National Super Alliance, said in a statement Monday that the Kenyan electoral commission is not ready "to conduct free, fair and credible elections."
The opposition camp, led by Raila Odinga, has previously made similar comments despite President Uhuru Kenyatta's insistence on proceeding with the vote, which was scheduled after the Supreme Court nullified an Aug. 8 election because of what it said were illegalities and irregularities. Kenyatta had been declared the winner in the earlier vote.
Mudavadi said Monday's meeting was held with top diplomats from the United States, the European Union, Britain, Norway and Denmark at the request of the embassies.
The United Nations and the African Union are appealing for peace as tensions build in Kenya, where the main opposition group says it will boycott a planned presidential election on Thursday.
The call for calm comes amid allegations by opposition leader Raila Odinga that the election, a re-run of an August vote that was nullified by the Supreme Court, will not be free and fair. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was declared the winner in August, wants to push ahead with this week's vote even though the election commission head says he cannot guarantee its credibility.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Moussa Faki Mahamat, chair of the African Union Commission, said Sunday that political factions should refrain from violence and that Kenyan security forces should also act with restraint.
Christopher Torchia in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.