Kenyan president snubs vote crisis meeting, presses ahead with campaign

NAIROBI: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta snubbed a crisis meeting called by the top election official for Thursday, saying he would instead spend the day campaigning for next week’s presidential vote re-run.
The first presidential vote in August, which Kenyatta won by 1.4 million votes, was annulled by the Supreme Court over procedural irregularities. The re-run is set for October 26 but opposition leader Raila Odinga has pulled out, alleging a failure to improve oversight of the election, casting doubt on how the vote will proceed.
Election Board Chairman Wafula Chebukati delivered a stark message to political leaders on Wednesday, saying he could not guarantee a credible vote under present conditions, and demanded Kenyatta and Odinga meet him for talks.
The board, known as the IEBC, set the meeting for 1130 GMT in Nairobi but then said it had been postponed to an unspecified date and time. Chebukati later tweeted that he had met Odinga and was “looking forward” to meeting Kenyatta, though it was not clear if the president intended to respond to his call.
Speaking at a campaign rally in the western town of Saboti late on Wednesday, Kenyatta said the priority was for Kenyans to go to the polls on the set date.
“We are not interested in telling the IEBC what to do. We want them to prepare so Kenyans can vote on the 26th,” he said.
However, Odinga, whose call for mass protests on election day has sparked fears that the crisis could turn violent, called for serious talks on the impasse after meeting Chebukati.
The stalemate has brought huge uncertainty to Kenya, a solid Western ally and the richest economy in the region. The crisis deepened last week after Odinga pulled out of the
race.
Odinga said his withdrawal should force the commission to start a fresh 90-day electoral cycle, including fresh candidate nominations. The election board says the vote will go ahead.
— Reuters