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Green light for Kenya’s repeat election after court collapses


Green light for Kenya's repeat election after court collapses

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Media captionKenya's election re-run explained

Kenya will hold a controversial repeat presidential election on Thursday as planned, the head of the election commission has announced.

Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second term, won in August but the poll is being held again over irregularities.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga has called on his supporters to join him in boycotting the ballot.

A bid to delay the election fell apart after only two out of seven Supreme Court judges showed up for a hearing.

One judge, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, failed to appear after her bodyguard was shot and wounded by unknown gunmen on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court annulled the original election in August by a 4-2 majority, saying there had been "irregularities and illegalities".

Some international observers have reduced their involvement in the poll because they say the conditions are not conducive for a free and fair election.

There have been running battles between police firing tear gas and stone-throwing protesters in the city of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold.

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'Resistance movement'

Election commission chief Wafula Chebukati said the polls would open at 06:00 (03:00 GMT) after being given assurances by the authorities.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Odinga supporters have been demonstrating in Kisumu

"Based on assurances given to this commission by the relevant authorities and security agencies… the elections as scheduled will go on tomorrow, 26 October 2017," said Mr Chebukati.

But he also complained of threats to the electoral commission's staff and said he could not guarantee their security while at work.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Raila Odinga addressed supporters in Nairobi

In a speech in Nairobi, Mr Odinga called for "free, fair and credible elections".

He said: "From today we are transforming the Nasa [National Super Alliance] coalition into a resistance movement.

"Do not participate in any way in this sham election," he told cheering supporters. "Convince your friends, neighbours, and everyone else not participate."

Reversing an earlier call for massive demonstrations, he asked people to stay at home or pray because the government was a "bloodthirsty regime" which would "massacre" them.

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Earlier, Chief Justice David Maraga announced that a petition to delay the vote could not be heard because only two of the court's seven judges had shown up.

In addition to Ms Mwilu, one judge was said to be ill and receiving treatment abroad, another was out of the capital Nairobi and could not get a flight back, and two others were unavailable for undisclosed reasons.

The main opposition party says this is no coincidence and is a sign of the intimidation of the country's independent institutions, the BBC's Tomi Oladipo reports from Nairobi.

Where were the judges?

Image copyright AFP

Judges who voted to annul August poll

  • Chief Justice David Maraga – present in court
  • Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu – absent. Her bodyguard was shot by gunmen on Wednesday
  • Justice Smokin Wanjala – absent. "Unable to come to court"
  • Justice Isaac Lenaola – present

Judges who dissented, saying results should be respected

  • Justice Jackton Ojwang – absent. "Unable to come to court"
  • Justice Njoki Ndung'u – absent. Missed her flight to Nairobi

On sick leave

  • Justice Mohamed Khadhar Ibrahim – receiving treatment abroad

The government had declared Wednesday a national holiday to allow people to travel to places where they were registered to vote.

Political tensions have sparked fears of unrest. After the 2007 poll, violence left over 1,600 people dead and thousands displaced.

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