Kenya holds rerun of presidential election but opposition boycotts

Kenya holds rerun of presidential election but opposition boycotts

Today, Kenyans head to the polls, for the second time in three months, to elect a president. The August 8 vote —won

KENYA-VOTE

Photo: AFP/Carl de Souza

Today, Kenyans head to the polls, for the second time in three months, to elect a president. The August 8 vote —won by incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta—was declared invalid by the country’s top court.

Last week, opposition leader Raila Odinga announced that, because of insufficient electoral reforms, he would boycott the re-run. His decision delegitimises the election and increases the likelihood of violence. To date, at least 70 protesters have been killed in the past 2.5 months.

The prolonged power struggle threatens East Africa’s biggest economy. Tourism, which accounts for almost 10% of the country’s GDP, took a massive hit after the violence following the 2007 election and is likely to do the same this year, should violence break out. Similarly, investors are delaying projects and consumers are putting off purchases; estimates suggest the economy lost over a billion dollars in September.

The situation is unlikely to improve unless Odinga concedes and urges his supporters to calm, something that’s not likely for the time being. Mr Kenyatta is now soundly expected to win.

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