25 October 2017

Kenya: As the Nation Prepares to Vote...

Photo: Grace Gitau/Daily Nation
A voter casting presidential vote in Kenya's election on August 8, 2017.

It is the eve of the much-anticipated October 26 poll and hopes of a successful, peace and credible poll are slim.

National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga has made a U-turn on his earlier call for protests on the day of the poll. He has now called on Nasa supporters to keep away from polling stations. According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Jubilee leader Uhuru Kenyatta won the Augusut poll with 8.2 million votes against Odinga's 6.8 million votes. So if the over 6 million voters are going to boycott the repeat poll, who will be at the polling stations - and will there be excess voting material ordered for these voters?

Nasa supporters have taken back to the streets to push for electoral reforms. In Kisumu, the protesters marched to the electoral commission offices carrying stones and twigs. In Nairobi, protesters were dispersed by anti-riot police as they marched along Kenyatta Avenue. It is still unclear whether the protests will not take place following Odinga's call for no protests on the day of the poll as Nasa MPs say they will not recognise the order by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i to stop public political meetings as campaigns have ended in line with the law.

Blocked roads are hampering distribution of election materials in Migori County. County IEBC co-ordinator Charles Mutai says they are encountering serious challenges in reaching the eight constituencies. This is a further challenge for credible polls.

A report by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch has revealed that as many as 50 people, mainly in perceived opposition strongholds in the capital, could have lost their lives during the protests against President Kenyatta's win. Police were directly implicated in the deaths of at least 33 people during their operations in Mathare, Kibera, Babadogo, Dandora, Korogocho, Kariobangi, and Kawangware between August 9 and 13. The police have also released a report that downplays the number of people who have been killed and brutalised by the police, the police claim they shot and killed 4 people, and injured 7. What then of the list of these 34 victims?

A number of schools have hurriedly closed because of the fresh presidential election. The schools closed early to allow students to travel home safely as political temperatures escalate due to the election. According to the ministry of education timetable, all primary schools will close for Christmas holidays on October 25. This poll has not only affected businesses, children's education is also suffering.

According to the timetables already sent out to schools, Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations will begin on October 31 and end on November 2, while KCSE theory papers will start on November 6 and end on November 29. These exams will only be determined by the outcome of tomorrow's poll. If the poll is also contested or annulled then it will mean the timetables have to be shifted again. Universities have closed to allow students and staff to participate in the elections.

A few weeks ago Raila Odinga announced his withdrawal from racing in this repeat poll. The IEBC included his name on the ballot as he did not submit his withdrawal forms as required by the law. So his supporters could still vote for him, and what happens if he wins?

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