NAIROBI – Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has called on his supporters to resist the government of President William Ruto, saying its disputed election last August had robbed it of legitimacy.
Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza coalition eked out a narrow victory over Odinga in the election, whose result announcement was accompanied by chaotic scenes at the national tallying centre, and his victory was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Both leaders, who have dominated politics in East Africa’s biggest economy for decades, settled into an uneasy calm after the electoral contest, but Odinga’s coalition said last week it had found new evidence of rigging.
“We cannot and will not recognise the Kenya Kwanza regime and we consider the Kenya Kwanza government illegitimate,” Odinga told a rally in the capital on Monday, adding that the government should resign.
The August vote was watched closely due to disputes in past contests that led to bloodshed. More than 1,200 people were killed following the 2007 election and, in 2017, more than 100 people were killed after the Supreme Court quashed the initial result over irregularities in the electoral process.
Ruto, who says the Supreme Court’s ruling vindicated his victory, has accused Odinga of planning to sabotage his administration by calling for protests.
The president has moved to set the stage for the reconstitution of the election commission, IEBC, after the retirement of its chairman and two loyal commissioners this month, and the resignation of the majority of the others.
He formed a panel to investigate the conduct of four election commissioners who rejected the outcome of the election saying Ruto had not won. Three of the four have since resigned.
“We demand that any attempts to reconstitute the IEBC single-handedly by Mr. Ruto cease forthwith so that Kenyans themselves can reconstitute the body after full and fair deliberations,” Odinga said.
He also urged Kenyans to resist the government’s “punitive taxes” on basic commodities like flour and electricity.
“The resistance starts today,” he said.