Kenya opposition leader urges boycott of repeat elections

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Kenya opposition leader urges boycott of repeat elections
Kenya opposition leader urges boycott of repeat elections

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – 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.

Jubilant supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta march past the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Jubilant supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta march past the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Riot police stand guard as a Kenyan woman holding Bible prays for peace outside the Supreme Court, Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. Chief Justice David Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing. The announcement appears to open the way to Thursday’s vote proceeding.(AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga march with a placard referring to him as “Baba”, the Swahili word of respect meaning “Father”, as they start to hold a rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
David Maraga. Chief Justice of Kenya, speaks at the Supreme Court, in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court will not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. Chief Justice Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Kenyan women stage a multi-faith demonstration calling for peace marches outside Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to hear a petition that seeks to postpone Thursday’s repeat presidential election and argues that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
David Maraga. Chief Justice of Kenya, speaks at the Supreme Court, in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court will not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. Chief Justice Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Kenyan women gather during a multi-faith demonstration calling for peace outside Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to hear a petition that seeks to postpone Thursday’s repeat presidential election and argues that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Kenyan women march during a multi-faith demonstration calling for peace outside Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to hear a petition that seeks to postpone Thursday’s repeat presidential election and argues that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Riot police stand watch a multi-faith demonstration of Kenyan women calling for peace marches outside Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court is set to hear a petition that seeks to postpone Thursday’s repeat presidential election and argues that not enough has been done to ensure the process is free, fair and credible. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Riot police stand guard as a Kenyan woman holding Bible prays for peace outside the Supreme Court, Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct.25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. Chief Justice David Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing. The announcement appears to open the way to Thursday’s vote proceeding.(AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
David Maraga. Chief Justice of Kenya, gestures at the Supreme Court, in Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court will not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. Chief Justice Maraga appeared alone in the court Wednesday morning and said only he and one other judge had been able to attend the hearing. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Kenyan lawyers at the Supreme Court Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta chant slogans near the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Jubilant supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta march past the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga march with a placard referring to him as “Baba”, the Swahili word of respect meaning “Father”, as they start to hold a rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta chant slogans near the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Supporters of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta march near the Supreme Court, after it failed to reach quorum to hear a petition calling for a halt in the presidential election, in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Kenyan Attorney General, Githu Muigai, right, addresses the court as David Maraga, Chief Justice of Kenya at Supreme Court, sat on Judges chair, listens Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Sayyid Abdul Azim)
Judges’ chairs are empty at the Supreme Court Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Chief Justice of Kenya David Maraga, top, speaks at the Supreme Court Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Chief Justice of Kenya David Maraga, speaks at the Supreme Court Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Kenyan women calling for peace and for the election to proceed jubilate outside the Kenyan Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Kenyan women calling for peace and for the election to proceed jubilate outside the Kenyan Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Kenyan women calling for peace and for the election to proceed jubilate outside the Kenyan Supreme Court in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court says the court cannot hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it does not have a quorum of judges. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga wears a mock banknote with Odinga’s face on his forehead at a rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court said Wednesday it could not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it didn’t have a quorum of judges, while the shooting of one judge’s driver hours before the hearing raised fears about intimidation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga ride on the outside of a “matatu” minibus as they arrive for a rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court said Wednesday it could not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it didn’t have a quorum of judges, while the shooting of one judge’s driver hours before the hearing raised fears about intimidation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga ride on the outside of a “matatu” minibus as they arrive for a rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Kenya’s Supreme Court said Wednesday it could not hear a last-minute petition to postpone Thursday’s presidential election because it didn’t have a quorum of judges, while the shooting of one judge’s driver hours before the hearing raised fears about intimidation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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