Kenya’s main opposition alliance said it won’t challenge the results that gave President Uhuru Kenyatta a landslide victory in last week’s disputed election rerun in court and instead vowed to mobilize its supporters to press for a another vote. “This election must not stand,” opposition leader Raila Odinga told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. “If allowed to stand, it will make a complete mockery of elections and might well be the end of the ballot as a means of instituting government in Kenya.” Musalia Mudavadi, a senior leader of Odinga’s four-party National Super Alliance, said that while private citizens may challenge the election in court, the coalition won’t take legal action against the vote. Kenyatta, 56, secured 98.3 percent of the vote in an Oct. 26 election that the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission said was free and fair, but was boycotted by Odinga, who described it as a sham. The electoral agency said the turnout dropped to 38.8 percent from 79 percent in the Aug. 8 contest, which the Supreme Court nullified after the electoral agency failed to disprove opposition claims of rigging.
The opposition’s decision to shun the legal process ups the ante in a violent standoff that has seen police and opposition supporters engaging in running street battles in Nairobi’s slums and Odinga strongholds in western Kenya, claiming about 78 lives since the initial vote in August.
Ethnic tensions have also flared between members of Odinga’s Luo community and Kenyatta’s Kikuyu group, raising fears of a repetition of the widespread violence that ensued after a contested 2007 vote and claimed at least 1,100 lives.