Kenya polls: Opposition retreats from campaigns

Kenya’s Opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) is keeping the country guessing over its game plan ahead of the October 26 repeat presidential poll.

Kenya’s Opposition coalition National Super Alliance (NASA) is keeping the country guessing over its game plan ahead of the October 26 repeat presidential poll.

NASA leader Raila Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka have kept off the campaign trail for the past two weeks, even as ruling Jubilee Party led by President Uhuru Kenyatta intensified their campaigns, visiting both their strongholds and those of NASA.

 

NASA has insisted that there would be no polls in the country on Oct. 26 if their demands, which include the sacking of electoral officials accused of bungling the August 8, are not met.

 

Instead, it has resorted to street protests to push for changes at the electoral commission and force Jubilee to withdraw amendments to the electoral laws.

 

But protests aside, it is NASA’s withdrawal from campaigns 16 days to elections that is baffling political divides.

Odinga flies out of the country later this week for visits to the US and Britain for an unspecified period in an unprecedented political move that has shocked even his supporters.

Before his departure, Odinga and his brigade had cancelled campaign rallies on Sunday allegedly to avoid clashing with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was also visiting the coastal region.

Jubilee Party leaders have accused Odinga of not being keen on repeat polls because he knows he would lose, the reason why he is not campaigning.

Instead, Kenyatta said Odinga is scheming for a coalition government with the help of foreign entities.

“A time has come in our nation when we need to differentiate between leaders who seek leadership for the sake of gaining power and those whose intent is to serve Kenyans and transform lives,” he told his supporters.

But Odinga has said he does not need to go to the campaign trail himself as he has hundreds of supporters who are campaigning for him.

“I have soldiers on the ground who are campaigning for me. Kenyans already know who their president will be,” said Odinga.

His supporters and critics are divided down in the middle on Odinga’s strategy to keep off the campaign trail.

“Who leaves a campaign mid-stream to go to the UK? What could be so urgent? Could it be for medical reasons?” posed Mumbi Seraki, a Jubilee supporter.

Odinga’s supporters, however, said he cannot hit the campaign trail to create an impression that all is well with the elections yet the ground is not leveled.

“Jubilee is campaigning to create perceptions of winning hearts because they think Kenyans easily change their minds. We cannot fall into such a trap,” said Seth Odongo, a NASA supporter.

“There will be no election for President of Republic of Kenya unless and until election commission is reformed and freed from the Jubilee government,” said Nelson Havi, a lawyer and supporter of Odinga.

Xinhua

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