Kenyan opposition candidate Odinga drops out of presidential race

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday pulled out of this month’s presidential election, saying necessary voting reforms have not been made.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the country's Oct. 26 presidential election on Tuesday. File photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA-EFE
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the country’s Oct. 26 presidential election on Tuesday. File photo by Dai Kurokawa/EPA-EFE

Odinga lost the Aug. 8 election to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, receiving 44 percent of the vote to Kenyatta’s 54 percent — but the results were ultimately nullified by Kenya’s Supreme Court, which found irregularities in the counting process.

Odinga, the leader of an opposition coalition known as the National Super Alliance, has since called for reforms of the electoral process.

“We have said and we continue to say that we will not participate in the elections if the environment is not conducive for a free and fair election,” Odinga said.

Tuesday, he officially removed himself from the Oct. 26 vote.

“We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel. All indications are that the election … will be worse than the previous one,” he said.

Election officials, though, insist that necessary reforms to the election process have been made.

While Odinga expressed confidence the vote will be canceled, Kenyatta told listeners at a campaign stop, “We have no problem going back to elections. We are sure we will get more votes than the last time. We are also telling him [Odinga] it is the people’s right to choose their leader. It is their sovereign right to choose their leader of choice.”

The annulment of the August election was seen as a breakthrough in honoring the country’s election law. The now-compromised vote this month is another unprecedented scenario in Kenya.

The Standard reported four possible outcomes — the IBEC can immediately declare Kenyatta the sole candidate and winner; the opposition could ask the Supreme Court for another vote, the court could allow a fringe candidate, Ekuru Aukot, to enter the race, or the Oct. 26 election could go on as planned.

By Ed Adamczyk