Africa

Kenyans vote in election rerun boycotted by opposition

by Editor

October 26, 2017 | 9:27 am
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Kenyans voted in a presidential-election rerun that President Uhuru Kenyatta is guaranteed of winning after his main rival withdrew, as protests erupted in some opposition strongholds.

However, in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold where polling stations have failed to open for the re-run of a presidential election, Kenyan police fired tear gas to disperse groups of stone-throwing young men a Reuters witness said.

Across the country, early  turnout has been much lower than the previous election on Aug. 8, with only handfuls of people arriving at polling stations in the capital, Nairobi, when they opened at 6 a.m. to cast their ballots. Police fired teargas to disperse opposition protesters in the Nairobi slum of Mathare, while demonstrators erected roadblocks on the main road into the western city of Kisumu, a key support base for opposition leader Raila Odinga.

“People are throwing stones so we have had to move into this hall under one roof, but even now we are still not comfortable, we are not safe,” said Hawa Hassan, an electoral official in charge of the Heidmarie voting center in Mathare.

Kenya is repeating its election because the Supreme Court last month overturned Kenyatta’s victory after finding the vote wasn’t conducted in line with the constitution and the electoral commission committed “illegalities and irregularities.” Odinga, the leader of the main opposition alliance, withdrew from the rerun on Oct. 10 saying the fresh vote “would be worse than the first one,” as his demands for staff and system changes at the commission, along with other reforms, were ignored.

A last-ditch bid by three petitioners to have the Supreme Court postpone the rerun failed on Wednesday after only two of the court’s seven judges showed up for the hearing, leaving the tribunal without a quorum. The High Court rejected a similar case, saying it didn’t have jurisdiction on the matter.

Uncertainty about the election has weighed on Kenya’s financial markets. The Nairobi Securities Exchange All Share Index has fallen the most in Africa since the election outcome was declared void on Sept. 1, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The government’s international bonds due in 2024 have also dropped since then, with yields climbing 36 basis points to 6.38 percent.

The “vote reduces the political uncertainty and gives some clarity on the way forward,” Mbithe Muema, head of equity sales in Kenya at Exotix Capital, said in an emailed note. “While we do expect a myriad of petitions post the election, at least there will be a sitting president, which allows for continuity of government business.”

 


by Editor

October 26, 2017 | 9:27 am
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