Nairobi: Kenya’s political divisions looked set to deepen on Tuesday as security forces patrolled the capital in preparation for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration and Opposition leaders urged supporters to attend a rival rally.
Kenyatta won a second five-year term on 26 October in a repeat presidential election boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who said it would not be free and fair. The Supreme Court nullified the first presidential election, in August, over irregularities.
The extended election season has divided Kenya, a Western ally in a volatile region, and blunted growth in East Africa’s richest economy.
Supporters of Kenyatta — who won with 98 percent of the vote after Odinga’s boycott — are urging the opposition to engage in talks and move on.
"Our responsibility after the political competition is to come together and work to build the nation," Kenyatta told a church service on Sunday.
But Odinga supporters say they will not forgive the ruling party, accusing it of stealing the election, rampant corruption, directing abuse by the security forces and neglecting vast swathes of the country, including Odinga’s heartland in the west.
"A return to the political backwardness of our past is more than unacceptable. It is intolerable...This divide cannot be bridged by dialogue and compromise," Odinga’s National Super Alliance opposition alliance said in a statement.
The Opposition plans to hold a prayer meeting in the capital on Tuesday, saying it wants to commemorate the lives of Odinga supporters killed during confrontations with the security forces over the election period.
More than 70 people have been killed in political violence this election season, mostly by the police.
But it was unclear if authorities would allow the rally. Nairobi County police commander Japheth Koome told Capital FM radio on Saturday the police had not been notified about the rally as required by law.
"Whoever thinks he has intentions to do that (hold a rally, and), he does not involve police, wants to break the law," he said. "Why don’t you tell that person that the law will deal with such a situation firmly?"
The interior ministry and police spokesmen refused to comment on Monday when called seeking comment on whether the rally could go ahead.
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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2017 08:05:30 IST