Kenya parliament passes controversial election law
The Kenyan parliament has passed an amendment to the country’s electoral laws under which a presidential candidate would automatically win a re-run vote if the other one drops out of the race.
The amendment, which had been proposed by the ruling party, was passed on Wednesday, a day after the country’s opposition leader said he was withdrawing from the “unfair” race.
Once incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the law, it will take immediate effect, according to parliamentary spokesman Martin Mutua.
The controversial law was harshly criticized by opposition lawmakers, who had boycotted the vote on Wednesday.
Last month, Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered a repeat presidential race to be held on October 26 between Odinga and Kenyatta. It annulled the result of an earlier poll, on August 8, after finding “irregularities.” Kenyatta had been declared the winner of that election.
Odinga, however, announced his withdrawal from the new election on Tuesday, saying the electoral commission must be changed. He claimed that the contest could not be free and fair.
He also added that there were indications that the upcoming repeat election would be worse than the previous one.
Odinga’s coalition party called for the new election to be cancelled as a result of his withdrawal. But Kenyatta said that they have “no problem going back to election. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time.”
“We are also telling him it is the people’s right to choose their leader. It is their sovereign right to choose their leader of choice,” said the incumbent president.
Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied through the capital, Nairobi, calling for changes at the electoral board. Kenyan police fired teargas to disperse the demonstrators.
Police also used tear gas against opposition supporters, who had gathered in Kisumu, an Odinga stronghold in the country’s west, on Wednesday.
Witnesses said the crowd had refused to disperse after being addressed by the county governor, Reuters reported.
In another development on Wednesday, Kenya’s High Court ruled that a minor opposition candidate, Ekuru Aukot — who had also ran in the August presidential election — could take part in this month’s re-run vote.
Justice John Mativo said he did not see any reason for Aukot to be barred from participating in the repeat election.
Auko, however, said that he had doubts about standing. He won about 27,000 votes of the more than 15 million cast in the August vote.