Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga at odds on polls, says AU chief

Friday July 21 2017
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AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, interpreter Mustafa Mohamed (second from right) and AUC's commissioner for political affairs Minata Samate (right) during a press briefing in Nairobi on July 20, 2017. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


President Uhuru Kenyatta and National Super Alliance flagbearer Raila Odinga disagree over the preparedness of the electoral commission to conduct polls, African Union Commission chairman Mahamat Moussa Faki has said.

The Chadian diplomat, who concluded a two-day visit of the country Thursday, held talks with the President, Mr Odinga, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials, the Judiciary and the civil society.

Mr Faki expressed satisfaction with the IEBC’s preparedness in delivering credible and peaceful elections.

He, however, said the opposition leader and Mr Kenyatta were not reading from the same script as far as the election preparations are concerned.

While Mr Odinga expressed reservations on IEBC’s preparedness, Mr Faki said President Kenyatta insisted that the General Election must be conducted on August 8.

Committed to fair elections


The AU Commission chairman downplayed differences between the two, saying they were normal.

“This is a political competition and you cannot expect the same views from two rivals,” Mr Faki told a press conference in Nairobi.

He added that President Kenyatta and his main rival were committed to participating in fair elections.

“They said they were willing to take part in a credible process,” the envoy said.

“I also got an assurance from IEBC that all systems are in place and that the agency will deliver credible elections.”

Maintain peace

In his key message to the political class and Kenyans, the continent’s top diplomat said maintaining peace during and after the General Election was important “since Kenya is an economic giant not just in the East Africa but even on the continent”.

“Kenya is important to regional stability and prosperity. A stable Kenya will go a long way in fostering peace and prosperity in the entire neighbourhood,” Mr Faki said.

“It is important that parties, candidates and their supporters conduct themselves in a manner that contributes to peaceful, free and fair elections.”

He urged leaders to see to it that the country does not slide back to the 2007/8 violence and told them to refrain from using language that could incite hatred.

Mr Faki pointed out that electing six people for various positions posed organisational challenges and increased the burden of responsibility on the electoral commission.

Postponing the elections

Earlier, President Kenyatta told the AU delegation that the opposition was engaged in a campaign to force postponement of the elections.

He said opposition figures were not interested in free and fair polls.

“We have persistently said that we are ready to accept the will of the Kenyan people, but the opposition adamantly refuses to submit itself to that commitment,” said the President.

“The reason is simple; subversion of the will of Kenyans.”

Mr Kenyatta also told the team chaired by former South African president Thabo Mbeki that the opposition’s attack on security and electoral agencies was a clear indication of its intention to cause mayhem.

“The responsibility of securing the elections and the country lies with the government,” the President said, adding that he was committed to free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful elections.


On Wednesday, Mr Odinga and his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka raised concerns over the use of State resources by the Jubilee party in its campaigns.

Maintaining peace during the campaign period, elections and after the polls also featured prominently in the meeting, with Mr Odinga promising the delegation that the opposition was committed to peace for Kenyans.

“Some areas have been listed as hotspots and we have urged our supporters in such places and countrywide to be peaceful,” said the Nasa presidential candidate.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has flagged 19 counties where violence could occur before, during and after the August 8 General Election.