by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Supporters of both
ruling Jubilee Party and opposition National Super Alliance
(NASA) vowed to stick to party lines as the two sides continue
to bicker over fresh presidential elections set for Oct. 26.
NASA, led by its presidential candidate Raila Odinga, has
insisted that there would be no election on Oct. 26 until
electoral commission officials who bungled the Aug. 8 polls
Odinga said elections would only be held if reforms were
undertaken at the electoral commission.
He named at least five officials whom he accused of presiding
over illegalities that led to the nullification of the August
presidential election by the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the Jubilee Party, led by President Uhuru
Kenyatta, has insisted elections would be held as scheduled
whether Odinga likes it or not.
By sticking to their hardline stances, both sides have irked
a good number of voters as the political stalemate has affected
businesses and livelihoods.
Odinga said NASA will stage protests to call for the sacking
of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)
officials who "stole" the opposition’s win.
"We don’t fear going to the fresh election, but we will only
participate if the electoral commission is reconstituted,"
Odinga told a rally in Nairobi on Sunday.
"Beginning Tuesday, we will hold protests outside the
electoral commission offices to remove those who stole our
On the other hand, Deputy President William Ruto said the
polls would go on whether Odinga participates or not.
"He should allow Kenyans to elect their president without
being coerced or intimidated," Ruto said.
"I want to tell Odinga that he has no capacity to stop
Kenyans from electing their choice."
In NASA’s strongholds, a rising number of Odinga’s supporters
said they would not vote in the Oct. 26 polls.
"What is the reason of voting if my vote would not count at
the end of the day?" Brian Omondi, who runs a welding workshop
on the east of Nairobi and has employed four people, said on
Omondi said he closed his business On Aug. 8 to take part in
the polls, queuing for close to five hours.
On social media, many NASA supporters have been categorical
that they will not vote if changes are not effected at the
"I will be candid with the people of Kenya and NASA in
"If Chiloba, Chebukati and Kassait will oversee this
election, I will not vote," said Abrahama Kimutai, a blogger.
Odinga’s political bases are mainly in western, Coast,
Nairobi and Nyanza regions.
The opposition leader has claimed his wins have been stolen
in three elections in 2007, 2013 and 2017, assertions that are
deeply ingrained in his supporters.
However, Kenyatta’s Jubilee supporters have vowed to vote in
the Oct. 26 elections to give him victory.
"Kenyatta’s birthday is on Oct. 26. Elections will be held on
Oct. 26," said George Kairu, a university student and a Jubilee
"Now I know what to give him as a present — my vote."
Kairu said NASA’s boycott would only make it easier for
Kenyatta to win the new polls.
"These people do not want elections.
"They know they can’t win.
"Now they are calling for mass action," said Susan Kihika,
the Jubilee senator representing Nakuru County.
The Oct. 26 date, which would be Kenyatta’s 56th birthday,
has become a contentious issue between NASA and Jubilee leaders,
with the former believing the electoral commission chose it to
influence outcome of the polls.
"Electoral commission is so desperate to give Kenyatta a
birthday gift that it wants to hold a fresh presidential
election on his birthday.
"We proposed Oct. 24 or Nov. 1 and they ignored it," said
lawyer Apollo Mboya, an Odinga supporter.
Some analysts fear a low turnout in the Oct. 26 repeat vote,
if it went ahead with many NASA supporters staying away.
"Research shows up to 30 percent of voters never turn to vote
in repeat polls but in the Kenyan situation the number may go up
because of the current standoff," said Henry Wandera, an
economics lecturer in Nairobi.
"If the changes are not effected as the opposition wants,
then expect (the number of people not voting) to rise to
millions," Wandera said, urging the two sides to sit down and
agree on issues so that voters are not disillusioned."