Kenya: Violence delays election in parts of Kenya

Oct 28, 2017

Kenya's election commission has postponed plans to hold delayed elections in some western constituencies where voting has not taken place. Protests and security concerns for staff are the main reasons for the delay.

Wafula Chebukati, head of the election commission, has postponed plans to restage the presidential election in areas hit by polling-day protests. They would be delayed "to a further date," he said on Friday.

"The commission has deliberated on the various incidents happening in some parts of the country and has postponed the elections scheduled to take place tomorrow, Saturday, to a further date to be announced in the coming days," Chebukati said.

In the western port city of Kisumu on Lake Victoria, police clashes with demonstrators turned deadly on Thursday afternoon. Protesters blocked streets, started fires and threw stones at security officers, who used tear gas and then fired into the crowds. Four people were killed and at least 50 others injured. Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o said that his government would not cooperate with the resumption of the vote on Saturday while the region was in "mourning."

Low turnout

Only 6.55 million Kenyans went to the polls for the country's re-run vote, Chebukati said on Friday, meaning turnout was a dismal 34.5 percent. Turnout for the August ballot that was annulled by the Supreme Court had been 80 percent.
The low turnout was likely due to a boycott of the vote by most of the country's 19 million registered voters, including opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who called it "a sham election." The deeply divisive election on Thursday was marred by protests and violence that left at least four people dead and dozens more wounded.

Opposition boycott

The first election in August 8 ended with a victory for incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta with 54 percent of the vote. Violence broke out after the opposition accused Kenyatta of vote tampering, leaving 37 people dead in a country still divided by ethnic loyalties.

However, a few weeks later, on August 28, Kenya's Supreme Court listened to arguments presented by Odinga on alleged irregularities and allowed an audit of the vote. The results of the audit led to the court voiding the election. Although he was instrumental in having the vote annulled, Odinga announced on October 10 that he was boycotting the second election, citing fraud within the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which is run by Chebukati.

Elections in Kenya have often been tense affairs, with many avoiding the polls for fear of violence. Widespread unrest after the country's 2007 election led to months of bloodshed that cost some 1,300 lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.


es/ks (AFP, Reuters)

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