Kenya’s political crisis in the form of an unresolved electoral aftermath has opened up a series of complicated legal issues and, beyond this, a protracted political crisis.
Opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) has announced the withdrawal of their candidate — opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) — from the repeat presidential election set for 26 October 2017. They argued that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had not made sufficiently credible steps towards addressing the extensive irregularities that drove the Supreme Court (SC) to annul the 8 August election, and had not met NASA’s ‘irreducible minimum’ of reforms: ‘No reforms, no elections’ had become their rallying cry.
Speaking at London’s Chatham House on 13 October in an attempt to rally international support, Odinga claimed that the IEBC had no intention to make any of the fundamental changes to work towards a free and fair election. Kenya, like so many other sub-Saharan countries, has seen a ‘return of the big man’ he said. Odinga’s point was that the 26 October election did not constitute an election because the same corrupt IEBC members were in charge and able to input results, as he alleged the NASA had proved in the original election.
His international tour is best seen as an effort to drum up international support and pressure: ‘Kenya needs their international friends’ he declared. Importantly, NASA says that this is not a boycott because they reference the Supreme Court’s 2013 interpretation of the Constitution’s Article 138 (8) (b) — which requires fresh nominations to happen if a candidate dies — but which also includes the case of a candidate withdrawing. In such circumstances, the electoral commission should allow sufficient time for another candidate to come forward. They have therefore demanded a new election with fresh nominations because this would create more time to address key election management issues.