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William Ruto blames opposition for Kenya poll violence

Deputy president blames opposition for 'organising' violence since presidential poll rerun that has claimed eight lives.

by Hamza Mohamed

Nairobi, Kenya - Kenya's deputy president has blamed the opposition coalition and its leader for the violence witnessed in the East African country following disputed polls.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Sunday, William Ruto said that an opposition militia was responsible for the killings since Thursday's presidential election rerun.

"Because of the obvious defeat our competitors were facing, they decided to organise violence. This violence was not spontaneous, it was organised violence. And the violence was supposed to prevent election officials and materials from getting to polling stations," he said.

"Mr Odinga knew for sure if these election materials got to the polling stations, as it did in two constituency in Nyanza, people will vote. He organised militia to erect barricades and prevent election officials and materials from getting to polling stations."

At least eight people have been killed and more than 30 injured since Thursday's election, most in the opposition strongholds in the western part of Kenya.

Odinga, speaking at a supporters' rally in the Nairobi neighbourhood of Kawangware, where a man was killed on Friday night and several businesses burned in clashes between government supporters and opposition protesters, blamed the government for the violence.

"They are intimidating even the judges. They shot with bullets the driver of the deputy chief justice of the Supreme Court," Odinga said.

"They want to destroy all government institutions so that they govern this country in dictatorship. But Kenyans will not accept."

Odinga, who came second in August's annulled polls where he won nearly 45 percent of the cast votes, withdrew early this month from the rerun claiming the election will not be free and fair.

Odinga, a former prime minister and the son of the country's first vice president, said opposition demands to reform the electoral have not been met.

'Illegalities and irregularities'

President Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's founding father, won 54 percent. Kenyatta is seeking a second and final five-year term in office.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition called on their supporters to not participate in the repeat elections called after country's Supreme Court annulled the August 8 election.

The Nairobi-based court said there were "illegalities and irregularities" in the voting process.

"We are asking the IEBC to call off the forced polls. The motive is clearly wicked and evil. And the entire process a sham. We call on the residents of these counties to stay away from the planned polls," Musalia Mudavadi, a senior member of NASA coalition, said on Friday.

The electoral body on Friday postponed the polls to a date yet to be confirmed in the four counties in western Kenya following deadly demonstrations citing "security challenges".

Political analysts say the government and the opposition coalition need to talk to bring to an end the political crisis that gripped the country since August.

"Dialogue is the best way out of this. The two sides need to talk to each other and move the country forward. Plain and simple," Dismas Mokua, a Nairobi-based analyst, told Al Jazeera.

Ruto, the deputy president, said the government was prepared to hold talks with the opposition.

"We are prepared, willing and ready to engage with Raila Odinga just as we are ready to engage with every other Kenyan to discuss the future of our country," he told Al Jazeera.

Since August's poll, at least 50 people have been killed in political violence in the country.


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SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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