Kenyans, businesses decry political impasse amid vote

While some are boycotting the vote rerun because they have no confidence in leaders, others say business is suffering.

A woman walks by as supporters of National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Odinga barricade roads in Kisumu [Kevin Midigo/AFP/Getty Images]
A woman walks by as supporters of National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Odinga barricade roads in Kisumu [Kevin Midigo/AFP/Getty Images]

Nairobi, Kenya – Politicians are crisscrossing the country, holding rallies as poll day fast approaches, but many Kenyans have had enough and want to see an end to the political crisis gripping the country.


August 8: 15 million Kenyans cast votes in presidential poll


August 12: Uhuru Kenyatta declared winner taking 54 percent. Raila Odinga, his nearest challenger, wins 45 percent


September 1: Supreme Court nullifies results citing ‘irregularities’ and ‘illegalities’ in the election process. Orders rerun to be held with 60 days


September 4: Electoral commission announces new presidential elections to take place on October 17


September 21: Electoral commission moves presidential election to October 26 saying it needs more time to meet the requirements set by Supreme Court


October 10: Opposition leader Raila Odinga withdraws from election rerun, saying electoral officials failed to make necessary reforms


October 12: Kenya bans protests in the three major cities as election fallout continues


October 18: Roseyln Akombe, a senior commissioner at the electoral body, resigns and flees the country

A presidential election rerun is expected to take place on October 26 after the Supreme Court annulled the results of the August’s poll won by Uhuru Kenyatta, citing “illegalities” and “irregularities” in the voting process.

“I’m boycotting the election. I have no confidence in them [the electoral body]. They are the same people that conducted the last election,” Dolphin Anyango tells Al Jazeera.

She sits on the cement floor outside her one-bedroom house in the East African country’s biggest slum, Kibera, praying for a lasting solution to the political impasse.

For the first time in more than 15 years, Anyango, 35, will not be casting her vote.

She has pressing reasons for wanting to see an end to the political dispute between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“I look after two orphans. I make jewellery that I sell to foreign tourists and foreigners don’t come to places with tension and violence,” Anyango says.

“Before the dispute, I used to make 2,000 shillings a day ($19). Now I make nothing. And I still have rent and taxes to pay,” she adds.

Before September, presidential election results had never been thrown out.

The opposition has called on their supporters to boycott the October 26 vote, claiming the polls will not be free and fair.

Odinga, President Kenyatta’s main challenger, has also withdrawn from the race.

But the government has said the election will proceed and called on people to “exercise their democratic right”.

Aida Abdu Noor, a grandmother of five, lives a short drive from Anyango’s home and looks forward to casting her vote.

“If there is no violence, I will go out and vote because it is my right,” Noor, a cloth seller, tells Al Jazeera.

“No election is perfect. In every country, there are claims of votes been stolen. In Tanzania, it was like that. In Uganda the same thing. This problem exists everywhere,” the 56-year-old says.

Unlike previous elections, campaign posters are mostly missing from billboards on major roads in the capital, Nairobi.

But street demonstrations have been frequent and deadly.

Businesses hurt

The country has been in election mode since the start of the year and businesses are hurting.

“I used to travel to Tanzania and Uganda to buy and sell clothes. But out of fear, I haven’t been travelling lately. I’m waiting for the election to finish,” Noor says.

Analysts say it is understandable that Kenyans are not excited by the poll rerun.

“Ordinary Kenyans must really feel short-changed by what’s happened,” Irungu Houghton, a political analyst, tells Al Jazeera.

“We did think we had had a fair and free election,” he says. “But obviously what has happened is a number of illegalities and irregularities that went into the election have left most Kenyans worried about whether the election this time around will be something that we can be proud of.”

For Anyango, the jewellery maker, she just wants things to go back to normal.

“We want peace. We want democracy. But more than anything we want an end to this so we can go back and make a living,” she said.

Dolphin Anyango wishes Kenya was stable so her business could prosper again [Hamza Mohamed/Al Jazeera]
Source: Al Jazeera

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