Kenya: Raila gives UN/Commonwealth two weeks to investigate alleged electoral malpractice

By Victor Abuso

Posted on Tuesday, 31 January 2023 13:37
Leader of the opposition coalition, Azimio la Umoja, Raila Odinga addresses supporters at a rally at which he continued to denounce the outcome of the August 2022 presidential poll in which he lost to Kenyan President William Ruto, terming them and the Ruto led ruling coalition, Kenya Kwanza's administration illegitimate at Jacaranda Square in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on January 29, 2023. (Photo by Gerald Anderson / ANADOLU AGENCY / Anadolu Agency via AFP)

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has given the United Nations and the Commonwealth a two-week ultimatum to travel to the country and investigate alleged electoral malpractice in the August 2022 presidential election.

Raila, who maintains his victory was stolen, and has refused to recognise William Ruto as President, warns that if his request is not granted, his supporters will take matters into their own hands.

“We are calling upon Commonwealth and United Nations inspectors to investigate what happened. We are giving them two weeks,” Raila told supporters in Nairobi.

The leader of the Opposition Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya alliance says his coalition wants to know the truth about what transpired during the August presidential poll.

Raila’s demand comes after his coalition last week released an alleged dossier from an insider in the electoral commission showing that he had in fact won against Ruto by more than two million votes; allegations that the current leadership dismisses.

In 2017, Raila who also claimed his win was stolen, asked supporters to boycott products from large companies that the government depended on for taxes, a move that impacted the economy of former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration. A protest held every Monday eventually paved the way for the famous political handshake in 2018. 

Meanwhile, Raila has publicly questioned why the former electoral boss Wafula Chebukati and two former commissioners, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, paid him a visit at his home, just days before the election date, without any clear explanation. 

“Why did they visit my home? I have their pictures, I will produce them,” he said.

There were claims that these electoral commission officials were bribed with huge sums of money by both political camps. However, these allegations have not been proved by either side. 

Internal probe

Raila’s ultimatum comes after the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) wrote to the electoral commission with intention of looking into the authenticity of the allegations.

Mohamed Amin, the head of the investigation agency, says, “The directorate is investigating the validity and authenticity of the documents in question and whether offences relating to forgery and falsification of documents have been committed.”

However, Raila has dismissed such investigations, saying the DCI is an employee of the government and an employee of President Ruto, thus unable to deliver justice.

“The DCI cannot investigate this matter,” Raila said.

Ruto’s response

President Ruto has continued to accuse Raila of political intimidation, saying nothing will change his administration’s development plan. Ruto has pointed a finger at powerful individuals in the opposition for sponsoring ongoing rallies claiming that the intention is to disrupt his government’s tax reforms.  

Ruto further challenged Raila’s claims that Chebukati had visited his home ahead of the elections, saying he should testify in a court of law.

“ He (Raila) is telling these stories five months later, [but] why did he invite the officials to his house ?” Ruto said.

Raila’s demand unreasonable?

Herman Manyora, a political analyst, believes Raila’s ultimatum is unreasonable, considering that Kenya is a sovereign state, and any international actors must be approved by the current regime that is legally in power, even if its legitimacy is being questioned. 

“Raila’s intention is to ensure Ruto has a difficult time governing. His demands are impossible,” he tells The Africa Report.

Manyora adds that both Ruto and Raila have a political responsibility to end the current political impasse.

“Ruto has the greater responsibility to extend an olive branch to Raila for the sake of the unity of the country,” he says.

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