Kenya's Raila Odinga withdraws from election re-run

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Kenya's Raila Odinga withdraws from election re-run

The electoral drama continues in Kenya, after opposition leader Raila Odinga announced Tuesday that he and his NASA coalition would not be participating in the country's presidential polls later this month.

The government-backed Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said on Monday in a report that at least 37 people had been killed in a police crackdown on protests that immediately followed the August vote - the highest death toll given so far.

The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can go ahead and declare Uhuru Kenyatta as a sole candidate and thus declare Kenyatta elected unopposed after which he will be sworn in by the Chief Justice.

But lawyers for President Uhuru Kenyatta are pointing to regulations that say if there are only two candidates and one drops out after nominations, the remaining candidate is the victor.

According to Odinga, who was accompanied by his co-principals, "The IEBC has refused, neglected or failed to put in place mechanisms to correct these illegalities and irregularities".

President Kenyatta said the election will be conducted whether the name of Odinga is on the ballot or not.

Following Odinga's withdrawal, Kenyatta said Odinga has exercised his "democratic right" to withdraw from the repeat poll.

Odinga has vowed to boycott the polls if his demands, such as the overhauling of the election commission, are not met.

Parties must now nominate presidential candidates afresh.

On Sept. 1, Kenya's Supreme Court annulled the results of the August 8 presidential polls where the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the victor.

Kenyatta termed the decision a "judicial coup". He and Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president, also faced off in a 2013 election marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging.

IEBC sticks to what the Supreme court ordered and proceeds with the October 26 repeat election.

While Jubilee believes the changes are meant to facilitate a smooth transmission of votes, their counterparts in the NASA coalition say the "ill-conceived amendments to election laws are not only unconstitutional but go against worldwide best practice that in the middle of an elections contest one can not change the rules and put in place rules that seek to favour him".

The uncertainty has also hamstrung east Africa's largest economy, leading to a slowdown in business across the private sector.

Nasa contends that the effect of the withdrawal is that a fresh election will have to be held, starting with fresh nominations of candidates by political parties.

The IEBC said Tuesday it's holding talks on the way forward.

"While the Commission was not able to determine whether the action to use force by security agents was predetermined and targeted, it is clear from our analysis that majority of the victims were from one ethnic community and from informal settlements", the report said.

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