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Pressure grows on Kenyan opposition to concede election defeat

The election commission on Friday declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta winner of the presidential poll by 1.4 million votes.

FILE: Protesters duck to avoid live bullets from riot police in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on 12 August 2017. Picture: AFP.

NAIROBI - Kenya was largely quiet on Sunday following violence in the aftermath of elections, as opposition leader Raila Odinga came under growing international pressure to concede defeat.

The election commission on Friday declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta winner of the presidential poll by 1.4 million votes. International observers said Tuesday’s election was largely fair but Odinga disputes the results, saying it was rigged. He has not provided documentary evidence.

There have been at least 24 deaths in election-related unrest, a rights group said on Saturday. But by Sunday the violence appeared to have largely abated, to the relief of Kenyans who feared a repeat of the violence that followed 2007’s disputed election.

Around 1,200 people were killed then and 600,000 displaced after Odinga called for political protests that sparked ethnic violence. Regional trade was paralysed and Kenya’s economy - the region’s biggest - took years to recover.

This time, diplomats and regional leaders are urging Odinga, a former political prisoner, to concede. Their united stance leaves the 72-year-old opposition leader isolated if he chooses to maintain the allegations of election fraud and proclaim himself president.

He has not issued a public statement since Thursday but is due to address supporters in Nairobi’s biggest slum on Sunday afternoon. Party leaders speaking on his behalf continue to accuse the government of vote-rigging and covering up the murder of their supporters.

Kenya’s allies say the election was largely fair.

“I want to congratulate Uhuru Kenyatta,” said a Sunday statement by Federica Mogherini, foreign minister for the European Union, which did over $3 billion worth of trade with Kenya last year.

“In line with the African Union, the EU expects the opposition to respect the results and to use legal means available for appeals and complaints.”

NO POWER-SHARING DEALS

A Western diplomat said allies were not interested in revisiting the type of power-sharing deals that ended the post-election violence a decade ago. That avenue was “not an option”, he said.

“If you have evidence that the election was rigged, produce it ... NASA has been changing its position in quite significant ways in the past week,” he said, referring to Odinga’s opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance.

“Most of the stuff they are alleging is not accurate.”

Initially, the coalition alleged the electoral server had been hacked and produced 50 pages of computer logs that security experts said were inconclusive at best.

They later said a secret source within the electoral board had passed them the true election results. That two-page document was debunked by the election commission, who pointed out basic mathematical errors.

Later, Odinga said paper forms from each polling station scanned and uploaded to the election commission website to support its electronic tally were fake. He has not produced alternative forms.

Regional leaders have already congratulated Kenyatta, the 55-year-old son of the country’s first president, on winning a second term.

“Congratulations my brother @UKenyatta for a successful election and the trust Kenyans have placed in you!” tweeted Rwandan president Paul Kagame. Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda have also sent congratulations.

There were some clashes between Odinga supporters and police on Saturday. Hospitals and morgues reported no new deaths.

In Kisumu, the western city that is Odinga’s heartland of support, some shops opened on Sunday and traffic was moving normally.

“Kisumu is calm ... for now the whole region is calm and we are happy,” Leonard Katana, assistant inspector general of police for the western Nyanza region.
In Nairobi, residents of slum areas said the situation there was calm.

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