Credit Georgina Goodwin/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. As Kenyans lined up at polling stations for the nation's second presidential election after the August vote was nullified, there were reports of minor scuffling as protesters tried to block ...
The court’s inability to rule meant that the vote was allowed to proceed as planned; Mr. Kenyatta is almost certain to win. He has been accused of fraud by his longtime rival Raila Odinga, who dropped out of the race, saying it would not be fair.
Residents in the Nairobi neighborhood of Kibera, a stronghold of the Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, clashed with the police on Thursday. Credit Tony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesObservers had feared that the voting could erupt into violence. Protests in August against the first election turned into clashes that left dozens dead. Violence also broke out after President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected in a 2007 race against Mr. Odinga: At least 1,300 people were killed and 600,000 displaced in ethnic conflict.
But a 2013 contest between the two men was largely peaceful.
Here’s what we know about the recent events.
What happened in court on Wednesday?
Only two of the seven judges showed up at a last-minute petition to delay the election. Since five are needed for a quorum, the Supreme Court said, it could not hear the case.
One of the judges, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, did not appear “following the events of last night,” Justice Magara said, referring to a gunman’s attack on her bodyguard Tuesday night in Nairobi.
Justice Magara said another judge was “unwell and out of the country for treatment,” while another was not able to get a flight back to Nairobi in time for the hearing.
He also acknowledged but did not explain the absence of the remaining two judges.
How did the election conflict begin?
Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga have been rivals for years. Mr. Odinga became prime minister under a power-sharing deal that followed the 2007 violence. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2013 against Mr. Kenyatta, who is the son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta.
Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, center, cast his vote on Thursday in his hometown, Gatundu. Credit Ben Curtis/Associated PressMr. Odinga challenged the 2013 election results, but they were upheld by the Supreme Court. In August, Mr. Kenyatta won re-election with 54 percent of the vote in another contest against Mr. Odinga, who again challenged the results.
Mr. Odinga said the vote had been marred by procedural irregularities and widespread vote-rigging. This time, the Supreme Court nullified the result, citing irregularities in the vote, and called for new presidential elections to be held by the end of October — a historic rebuke of a sitting head of state.
How tense is the second campaign?
One man was shot dead and three others injured during protests in Kisumu as opposition supporters try to stop Thursday’s vote.
Henry Omosa, the head nurse for a casualty unit at a government hospital, told Reuters: “A young man, aged 17 or 18, was brought in heavily bleeding. We were giving him blood but he succumbed.”
The rhetoric has been heated, and rights groups say roughly 70 people have been killed across the country since the original vote.
Protesters began gathering in Kisumu and Nairobi’s Uhuru Park since Wednesday to demonstrate against the looming ballot.
Kenyans watching Raila Odinga, Mr. Kenyatta’s main rival, on TV. Mr. Odinga called for a boycott of the rerun of the presidential election. Credit Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesOn Twitter, the main opposition group, the National Super Alliance, warned, “The primary responsibility, if the worst occurs, lies squarely with Kenyatta.”
Kenya’s election commission said voting had been hindered by “security challenges” in a number of areas: Homa Hay, Kisumu, Migori and Siaya — all in opposition strongholds in western Kenya. Wafula Chebukati, head of the election commission, said at a news conference that voting would take place in those areas on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Mr. Odinga announced his withdrawal from the race, saying that he believed the second election would be “worse than the previous one” because the electoral commission had not made changes to its operation or its staffing.
But Mr. Odinga did not file the paperwork that would have formally removed him from the race, so his name appears on the ballot, according to election commissioners.
Last week, a senior official, Roselyn Akombe, resigned from Kenya’s election commission and fled the country. In a statement issued from New York, she said the election staff members feared for their safety, and she warned that the poll results would not be credible.
Hours later, Kenya’s top election official, Wafula Chebukati, seemed to agree. He warned that he could not “truly be confident of the possibility of having a credible presidential election” unless the political parties agreed to dialogue.
In anticipation of demonstrations, the Kenyan police said they would not allow the National Super Alliance to hold a rally at the capital’s Freedom Park ahead of its boycott of the election on Thursday.
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