Kenya opposition leader Raila Odinga withdraws from presidential election

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Kenya's main opposition leader announced Tuesday that he would not contest the rerun of the presidential election, set for October 26, casting doubts on the legitimacy of the vote process.

NASA presidential candidate, veteran politician Raila Amolo Odinga announced today that he and his running mate, Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, will not take part in the repeat election, occasioned by the September 1 Supreme court ruling that nullified the election.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the presidential re-run, which was expected to be a run-off between Odinga and himself, would go ahead as scheduled despite his rival's withdrawal, Reuters news agency reported.

Nevertheless, they emphasized that Kenya's vibrant constitutional dispensation, coupled with strong independent institutions and the resilience of its citizens, would act as a bulwark against civil disruption in the wake of Odinga's withdrawal from presidential race.

Odinga lambasted the electoral commission, saying the organization "stonewalled meaningful deliberations on the necessary reforms to ensure that the elections of 26th October are free and fair".

Kenyatta has said he does not want changes to the election commission.

However the opposition sees the laws as a bid to legalise the "irregularities and illegalities" in the counting process cited by the Supreme Court.

The essence of this contention is that the subsequent presidential election must involve any other interested parties and the candidates would not be just from Nasa and Jubilee, contrary to what the IEBC had indicated in the Gazette Notice following the annulment of the presidential election of August 8.

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The government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said it has documented 37 deaths, including a six 6-month-old baby who was clobbered by armed security agents in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu County during protests by Odinga supporters who rejected Kenyatta's victory.

During a press conference in Nairobi, he said he could not be sure that the October 26 poll would be free, fair and credible so he dropped out.

If president Kenyatta is declared to have won that fresh election, then he would be sworn in for the second term unless another petition is filed.

His Jubilee Party has instead used its parliamentary majority to push for changes in the electoral law ahead of the October 26 vote.

The uncertainty has also hamstrung east Africa's largest economy, leading to a slowdown in business across the private sector.

In response, the election commission said on Twitter that it was meeting with its legal team and "will communicate way forward".

Earlier Chebukati said it did respond to the opposition's irreducible minimums and can guarantee the integrity of the fresh presidential election. He blamed them for irregularities during the August 8 vote.

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