Kenya opposition leader urges boycott of repeat elections

Supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga take part during a rally at the Uhuru Park in Nairobi Wednesday. (Reuters)
Updated 25 October 2017
0

Kenya opposition leader urges boycott of repeat elections

NAIROBI, Kenya: The leader of Kenya’s main opposition party urged his supporters to boycott a rerun of the country’s disputed presidential election scheduled for Thursday amid rising political tensions and fears of violence.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga urged his political coalition to become a “resistance movement” and called on them to boycott Thursday’s repeat presidential election.
“Do not participate,” he said at a rally in Nairobi’s Uhuru Park of Thursday’s re-run of the presidential election.
The country’s Supreme Court on Wednesday failed to muster enough judges to hear a last-minute petition to postpone the elections.
Supreme Court Chief Justice David Maraga appeared alone in the courtroom and said that only he and one other judge had shown up for the hearing. The shooting of one judge’s driver the evening before raised fears about intimidation of the judiciary.
Outside the court, hundreds of women in white scarves gathered to call for peace amid rising uncertainty and fears of violence. Jubilant supporters of President Uhuru Kenyatta celebrated the news that the elections will proceed.
In Uhuru Park hundreds of opposition supporters gathered to hear Odinga speak. Police had earlier banned the rally, but stood back and allowed it to take place.
The Supreme Court hearing was to hear a petition filed by three Kenyans, including a human rights activist, who urged the court to postpone Thursday’s election, arguing that electoral officials have said they cannot ensure the polls will be free, fair and credible.
Harun Ndubi, a lawyer for the petitioners, suggested that some judges who did not attend the hearing may have violated their constitutional duties.
“The justices must forever be available,” said Ndubi, though he acknowledged that the deputy chief justice whose police driver was injured in a shooting Tuesday evening may have been genuinely troubled.
“For the others, I don’t buy their explanation,” he said. “I don’t see a credible or legitimate election happening tomorrow,” Ndubi said, adding that the vote, if it occurs Thursday, “would be a farce.”
Busloads of opposition supporters arrived for a rally at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park, despite a police ban on the gathering. Opposition leader Raila Odinga is scheduled to address the demonstration. Police were at the park, but kept their distance from the opposition supporters. The mood at the rally was mostly cheerful and even celebratory. People danced, blew whistles and vuvuzelas, and banged drums. Orange caps and T-shirts with Odinga’s initials, R.A.O., were handed out to the delight of the crowd.
Across the country, at the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, in western Kenya, Odinga supporters suggested they would disrupt Thursday’s elections.
The Supreme Court court shocked Kenya last month when it nullified President Kenyatta’s August re-election, citing irregularities and illegalities and the electoral commission’s unwillingness to let court-appointed technicians scrutinize its computer system. Opposition leader Odinga had challenged Kenyatta’s victory, claiming hackers had infiltrated the computer servers and manipulated the vote.
Odinga has said he will boycott the new election because the electoral commission has not been reformed. Kenyatta has insisted the Thursday vote will continue.


North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

Updated 13 min 34 sec ago
0

North Korean missile test violated UN resolution, says Bolton

  • Trump has left “door open” for North Korea’s Kim
  • Washington has “deep and serious” intelligence on Iran threat

TOKYO: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Saturday North Korea’s recent missile launches violated a UN Security Council resolution and urged leader Kim Jong Un to return to denuclearization talks.
It was the first time a senior US official has described the tests as a violation of UN resolutions aimed at halting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and came ahead of a four-day visit to Japan by US President Donald Trump who arrives later in the day.
“The UN resolution prohibits the launch of any ballistic missiles,” Bolton said at a press roundtable. North Korea’s test firings included short range ballistic missiles and so there was “no doubt” it was a violation, he added.
Earlier this month, Kim Jong Un oversaw the first flight of a previously untested weapon — a relatively small, fast missile experts believe will be easier to hide, launch and maneuver in flight.
Bolton said that the United States was still open to talks with Kim’s regime but that it had not changed its position from the one outlined at the last summit between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi.
“Trump has held the door open for Kim, the next step is for Kim to walk through it,” he said.
Bolton also urged Kim to agree to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which he said could help restart dialogue on North Korea’s weapons programs.
An Abe Kim summit “could be substantive assistance to that,” he said.
Trump, who will play golf with Abe on Sunday before watching Sumo wrestling, is expected to discuss topics ranging from North Korea to China and two-way trade when they sit down for a summit on Monday.
The two leaders will also discuss rising tensions with Iran, Bolton said. Abe is considering a visit to Iran as early as mid-June, public broadcaster NHK said on Friday, the first such trip in four decades.
Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil and has designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
The United State is also deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to what the Trump administration described as troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran.
Bolton, who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish US policy on Iran, described recent attacks on tankers off the United Arab Emirates and a pipeline pumping station in Saudi Arabia, as well as a rocket attack in Baghdad’s Green Zone in Iraq, as “manifestations of concern.”
The United States has “deep and serious” intelligence on the threat posed by Iran, said Bolton, who declined to provide details.