UN turns down Nasa's plea to audit poll results

Wednesday August 16 2017

US President Donald Trump speaking to the press about protests in Charlottesville at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

US President Donald Trump speaking to the press about protests in Charlottesville at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey on August 12, 2017. Trump administration called on Kenyans to maintain peace and resolve disputes through courts. PHOTO | JIM WATSON | AFP 

By NATION TEAM
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The United Nations will not audit Kenya’s just-concluded election, the organisation has said in New York.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the organisation had declined a request by Nasa leader Raila Odinga for the organisation’s review of the August 8 election results.

Mr Haq reiterated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent statement urging Kenyan political leaders to bring election-related disputes to “the relevant constitutionally mandated institutions”.

This came hot on the heels of a congratulatory message from the White House lauding Kenyans and President Uhuru Kenyatta for what it termed a “successful election”.

UN’s decision and the consolidation of international support might tend to limit the elbow room for Mr Odinga, who on Tuesday held a six-hour meeting with his co-principals to consider various options of dealing with the disputed election results.

US President Donald Trump’s strong endorsement of the election and his appeal to the Opposition to use the courts instead of turning to mass demonstrations will also add to the pressure to seek a peaceful settlement.

MAINTAIN PEACE

The idea of a UN-led election analysis was floated by Mr Odinga in an interview with the Financial Times of London.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Mr Haq added that the UN will monitor Mr Odinga’s remarks which were expected on Tuesday but postponed to Wednesday.

In Washington, the Trump administration called on Kenyans to maintain peace and resolve disputes through courts.

“We are troubled by reports that some demonstrations have turned violent, and call on all Kenyans to reject violence and resolve disputes in accordance with the Kenyan Constitution and the rule of law. We welcome calls by President Kenyatta for peace and national unity,” the statement by the White House press secretary dated August 14 said.

“The United States congratulates the people of Kenya on the successful conclusion of elections, and President Uhuru Kenyatta on his re-election. We commend the dedication of candidates, officials, and the public to upholding a peaceful, fair, and transparent contest, and we welcome the statements by international and domestic observer missions affirming the credibility of the election,” the US added.

UHURU KENYATTA

With 8,203,290 votes (54.27 per cent) and having attained at least 25 per cent of the vote in 35 counties, President Kenyatta was declared elected to serve for a second five-year term.

Mr Odinga polled 6,762,224 (44.74) and had attained at least 25 per cent of the vote in 29 counties.

On Tuesday, Mr Odinga led his co-principals in a six-hour meeting as they sought  the way forward after they rejected results. The Opposition will announce its decision on Wednesday.

During the meeting held at a private location in Nairobi, the Nasa principals and members of the Summit also analysed forms 34A and 34B to establish whether the results declared by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) were consistent with the figures contained in the forms.

The meeting led to the postponement of a planned press conference during which Mr Odinga was expected to announce Nasa’s next move following its rejection of the results of last week’s General Election.

In a statement released after the meeting, Nasa campaign team leader Musalia Mudavadi promised that the opposition coalition will issue the announcement on Wednesday.

OPTIONS

“Owing to the urgency, complexity and delicate nature of issues Nasa Summit is handling, our consultations are on-going and progressing well,” said Mr Mudavadi. “We regret that the consultations are taking longer than anticipated and Nasa will, therefore, not address Kenyans as projected today (Tuesday). Nasa will issue a comprehensive statement to the nation tomorrow (Wednesday) ,” he said.

Co-principal and Bungoma senator Moses Wetang’ula told the Nation that they had spent the better part of the day assessing their options.

“We had a marathon meeting from 9am upto 3pm to discuss several issues. We have scanned through the forms and I can tell you we are very pleased with what we saw,” he said without divulging further details on grounds that they would pre-empt Wednesday’s announcement.

Those in the meeting, the Nation learnt, included Mr Odinga, Mr Mudavadi, Mr Wetang’ula, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka and outgoing Bomet governor Isaac Ruto. Also in attendance was Siaya Senator James Orengo, who was Mr Odinga’s deputy chief agent during the presidential election, and former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama.

NASA SUMMIT

Mr Orengo and Mr Muthama are members of the Nasa Summit alongside Tongareni MP Eseli Simiyu who was, however, not present.

“Only Eseli was not present but we recorded his apologies as he was attending to other matters,” said Mr Wetang’ula.

On Sunday, while touring Nairobi’s Kibera slums to mourn victims of alleged police brutality following post-election protests in some parts of the country, Mr Odinga urged his supporters not to report to work on Monday but instead wait for a major announcement on his next move on Tuesday.

He was flanked by Mr Orengo, Kibra MP Ken Okoth, Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino among others.

RULES OUT COURT

The work boycott was largely unsuccessful with many workers reporting for duty. Mr Orengo has repeatedly stated that Mr Odinga will not lodge a petition at the Supreme Court challenging President Kenyatta’s victory.

A source at Tuesday’s meeting claimed that the principals were divided over the next course of action, with one group preferring a call to mass action to push their cause while another is opposed to that.

The anti-mass action group advised that they desist from a confrontational approach to the matter reasoning that it may lead to deaths and injuries which will be ultimately blamed on them.

They also argued that such an approach, besides being sure to achieve very little, will take away any support they have from the international community.

CONCEDING DEFEAT

The meeting, Nation learnt, was however unanimous that filing a petition at the Supreme Court to challenge the results was out of question.

“They all agree that it is not the way to go given past experience,” claimed the source who asked not to be named because the discussions were confidential.

The principals also agreed with Mr Odinga that conceding defeat would not only amount to “endorsing a stolen election” but will perpetuate such malpractice in future elections.

“The country will be fully briefed tomorrow (Wednesday), just wait as I cannot reveal more information,” the source stated.

Speaking on Monday, President Kenyatta tried to draw a line under the election and its aftermath. “Kenyans have said that the election is behind them, the majority have returned to work,” he said.

He also reached out to Mr Odinga, offering a “hand of peace” and urging him to use legal means to express his grievances including peaceful demonstrations if he chooses not to go to court.

  —Reports by Kevin J Kelley, Bernard Namunane, Peter Leftie and Patrick Langat