What next after Raila Odinga quit presidential vote?

Electoral board to study opposition leader’s withdrawal, as president vows polls will proceed without major contender.

Supporters of Kenyan opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, carry a banner as they demonstrate in Nairobi
Odinga's withdrawal follows weeks of protests by his supporters who claim he was cheated out of a win [Baz Ratner/Reuters]
Correction11 Oct 2017
A previous version of this story stated that Kenya's Supreme Court ruled the electoral board should include Ekuru Aukot on the ballot in a case of a re-run. That was incorrect. It was the country's High Court that made the decision.

Kenya‘s electoral commission, the president and the opposition remain deadlocked on how to proceed with the presidential election rerun after opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the race.

The electoral body said it was reviewing Odinga’s withdrawal from the race, while President Uhuru Kenyatta said the October 26 vote would proceed even if he remains the sole contender.


Odinga said on Tuesday he would boycott the polls because opposition demands for electoral body reform have not been met.

“All indications are that the election scheduled for October 26 will be worse than the previous one,” Odinga told a press conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday. 

“There is no intention on the part of the [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)] to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel to ensure that the ‘illegalities and irregularities’ that led to the invalidation of the August 8 poll do not happen again.”

Odinga, a former prime minister and the son of the country’s first vice president, shocked the nation by pulling out from this month’s rerun ordered by the Supreme Court last month.

“We are reviewing the said [withdrawal] letter with support from our legal counsel and will advise on the way forward in due course,” Wafula Chebukati, IEBC chairman, said in a statement late on Tuesday.

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The opposition leader’s withdrawal follows weeks of protests by his supporters who claim their candidate was cheated out of a win.

Meanwhile, President Kenyatta told a campaign rally in the southern town of Voi that polls will take place later this month despite the withdrawal of his only challenger.

“It is his democratic right not to participate. We tell him also it is the people’s right to participate in an election to choose their leader. So whether you are there or not, we are proceeding,” Kenyatta said on Tuesday.

“There is nowhere in the constitution where it says it is a must for Raila Amolo Odinga to be on the ballot,” Kenyatta added.

‘The country is divided’

Early on Wednesday, the country’s High Court ruled that the electoral board should include Ekuru Aukot on the ballot in a case of a rerun.

Aukot received fewer than 1 percent of the votes in the August election.

Analysts say the courts might have to intervene again to find a way forward out of the political crisis.

“In one way or another, it looks like we will end up at the Supreme Court again,” Abdullahi Boru, a Nairobi-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera.

“The country is divided and every camp is interpreting the constitution the way that suits their interests. Each side is hoping that the law will be on their side when things go to court,” Boru said.

Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified last month the result of the August 8 presidential election won by president Kenyatta after the opposition disputed the results and brought a case to court.

The Nairobi-based court said the electoral board committed “irregularities and illegalities” during last month’s vote, harming the integrity of the election.

Source: Al Jazeera