Kenyan opposition Raila Odinga confirmed his withdraw from the 26th October Kenyan presidential elections, citing the government had failed to make changes in the electoral committee and the election process.
Several people were injured in protests in Kenya on Wednesday, Kenyan police fired teargas at opposition protesters who burned tyres and lobbed stones, a day after their leader Raila Odinga announced his withdrawal from the presidential race, plunging the country into uncharted waters.
Kenya will deploy security forces to monitor protests planned by the main opposition alliance, the government’s spokesman said, as he criticized the demonstrations for slowing down business.
The opposition National Super Alliance plans to hold demonstrations in the capital, Nairobi, and other cities on Friday. The coalition began a campaign of twice-weekly protests on Monday to press its demands for an overhaul of the electoral commission before a rerun on Oct. 26 of the country’s annulled presidential elections.
As poll officials mulled their next move, opinions were split on what the veteran opposition leader’s move could mean for a dramatic election saga that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August 8 victory annulled by the Supreme Court in a first for Africa.
“Up to now we have received about 23 (injured). Three of them are gunshot injuries. One is badly injured. The rest are small injuries like bruises and teargas that damaged their eyes.”
Election officials have been locked in crisis meetings since the decision, as debate raged over what Odinga’s move could mean for a dramatic election saga that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta’s August 8 victory annulled by the Supreme Court.
But longtime rival Odinga says his withdrawal legally forces election officials to begin the entire process from scratch — a move that leaves more time for his reform demands to be met.
However, the nation’s electoral commission (IEBC) said Wednesday it had not received formal notice of his withdrawal and regarded all original candidates as still on the slate.
“We appeal for calm and dialogue among all players to ensure that elections are successfully held and for the country to move forward,” the commission said.
To maintain pressure, Odinga’s opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition called for protests to take place every day from next week.
In Odinga’s western stronghold of Kisumu, thousands of protesters took to the street, blocking roads, setting heaps of tyres alight and engaging in running battles with police.