Kenya’s key western trading partners and political allies urged talks to resolve a deadlock over the country’s presidential elections, as the nation’s top court began considering petitions challenging the outcome of last month’s vote rerun. The Oct. 26 rerun of an annulled vote two months earlier has polarized the East African nation and exposed “deep tribal and ethnic rifts” that have characterized Kenyan politics in the past, the Atlanta-based Carter Center said Wednesday in an emailed statement. Its appeal for negotiations echoed similar calls by the European Union and the U.S. last week. “Kenya is in dire need of dialogue and reconciliation,” the Carter Center said. “Though both President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga have made calls for peaceful co-existence, it is also important for the politicians to engage in dialogue to resolve this protracted political standoff.”
Kenyatta, 56, was declared the winner of last month’s vote, which Odinga boycotted after the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission refused to accede to his demands for staff and procedural changes. While the agency defended the election, the opposition dismissed it as a sham and said the final results were doctored. Voter turnout slumped to 38.8 percent from 79 percent in the August election that was nullified after the commission failed to disprove the Odinga-led opposition alliance’s claims of rigging.
The credibility of the Oct. 26 ballot was damaged by “insecurity, political uncertainty and lack of a fully competitive election,” the Carter Center. Attacks on the electoral commission and the judiciary “dimmed prospects of a successful election.”