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Kenyans Await Word on Election Challenge From Odinga

  • Jill Craig

Young Kenyan men hang out in front of closed shops in Nairobi's Kibera slum Monday, Aug. 14, 2017. Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga urged his supporters to skip work on Monday to protest what he charged were rigged elections that gave victory to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenyans continue to wait in suspense for a statement by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has rejected the results of the presidential contest, announced Friday. He claims the election was rigged.

Odinga and his NASA coalition were scheduled to announce their next move Tuesday. But they instead released a statement postponing his remarks to Wednesday, given what they called the “urgency, complexity and delicate nature” of the issues being considered.

The electoral commission announced on August 11 that incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta had won the election with 54.3 percent of the vote, beating Odinga’s 44.8 percent.

Odinga has rejected the results, asserting that the voting system was hacked. The opposition has rejected calls to challenge the poll results in court.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to thousands of supporters gathered in the Mathare area of Nairobi, Aug. 13, 2017.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga gestures to thousands of supporters gathered in the Mathare area of Nairobi, Aug. 13, 2017.

The White House released a statement Tuesday congratulating Kenyatta on his re-election, and said it welcomed the “statements by international and domestic observer missions affirming the credibility of the election.” It also called on Kenyans to “reject violence and resolve disputes in accordance with the Kenyan constitution and the rule of law.”

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said Saturday that 24 people had lost their lives since the day following the election as a result of police using live bullets. Police dispute that figure, saying 10 people have been killed, and all of them were criminals.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Human Rights Commission, or KHRC, says it is being targeted for closure by the state regulator, the NGO Coordination Board.

A letter from the board to KHRC released online Monday accuses the KHRC of employing foreigners without work permits, making secret payments to board members, failing to pay taxes, and having illegal bank accounts.

KHRC says that NGO Coordination Board director Fazul Mohamed has banned NGOs affiliated with the opposition, and has refused to meet with the KHRC about the accusations against the group.

KHRC executive director George Kegoro spoke to reporters Tuesday.

“Mohamed Fazul only attacks us in the media. He never writes to us. He has never written to us a single letter. We see these documents flying in the media and never directed to us,” said Kegoro.

Amnesty International says the NGO Coordination Board is also asking authorities to close down another local rights group, the African Center for Open Governance. The group is accused of operating without proper registration as an NGO.

In a statement, Amnesty International said the NGO Coordination Board is seeking “to discredit human rights organizations,” calling the action “unlawful and irresponsible.”

VOA was unsuccessful in its attempts to get comment from the NGO Coordination Board.

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