In Kenya election re-run, polling incomplete and next steps uncertain

KISUMU, Kenya: Kenyans who boycotted a repeat presidential election voiced relief on Saturday after authorities indefinitely delayed further attempts to hold the vote in some opposition areas due to the risk of violence.
But while the election board’s decision stemmed the prospect of more clashes, it also pushed to the fore a new question: can President Uhuru Kenyatta be declared winner of a vote in which ballots were not cast in 20 of Kenya’s 290 constituencies?
Two days after polling in the rest of the country, voting had been due to take place in four counties where residents blocked roads and clashed with police as part of an opposition boycott. The board ditched the plan late on Friday.
“I’m happy because we need peace, we are tired of being brutally killed by the police,” said Henry Kahango, a father of three, in the western city of Kisumu. Police officials have said repeatedly that their response to the political unrest is proportionate.
Kenyatta has won more than 97 per cent of votes counted so far, according to a local media tally. But with turnout estimated below 35 per cent and the country deeply divided, his hopes for a decisive mandate to lead east Africa’s richest economy have been quashed.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the contest, a rerun called after August’s election was annulled by the Supreme Court over procedural irregularities. He said the contest against Kenyatta was not going to be fair. Odinga won 44.7 per cent of the vote then, on a turnout of nearly 80 per cent. In Thursday’s vote, Kenyatta faced six minor candidates, none of whom won more than 1 per cent in August. — Reuters