29, October 2017
Kenya’s election board has indefinitely delayed the country’s re-run presidential poll in four opposition-dominated areas due to “risk of violence.”
The board’s Friday decision came two days after polling in the rest of the country, in an attempt to stem the violence in Homa Hay, Kisumu, Migori and Siaya — all in the opposition stronghold of western Kenya.
In the wake of the re-run vote, residents of the opposition’s stronghold areas blocked roads and clashed with police.
Police officials have stressed that their response to the turmoil is proportionate.
So far, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta has won over 97 percent of votes counted with turnout estimated below 35 percent.
The re-run election was held after the Kenyan Supreme Court annulled the previous election in August over procedural irregularities. Key opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the contest, saying the contest against Kenyatta was not going to be fair.
Odinga won 44.7 percent of the vote in the previous round that saw a turnout of nearly 80 percent. In Thursday’s election, Kenyatta contested six minor candidates, none of whom won over 1 percent in August.
At least five people have been killed by gunshot wounds and beatings by police in the post-election violence since Thursday.
According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, at least 45 people died during a police crackdown on opposition supporters after the August vote.
The turmoil over the election has been polarizing the nation and hampering growth in East Africa’s most vibrant economy. Kenya is also considered a major regional trade hub and a key security ally for Western countries.
The European Union has called on Kenyan security forces to provide protection to all citizens and avoid the excessive use of force. A decade ago, some 1,200 Kenyans were killed in violence after another disputed poll.