Raila Odinga denies calling demos on election day

Nasa leader Raila Odinga has now asked his supporters not to take to the streets on Thursday during the repeat presidential election and stay away from polling stations.

“We have not told people to demonstrate on the polling day. We have not said that at all,” Mr Odinga said on Tuesday in an interview with the BBC.

60 DAYS

“We have told people to stay away.”

Last Thursday, Mr Odinga and his National Super Alliance (Nasa) brigade had told their supporters to prepare for demonstrations in the week preceding the fresh poll.

But in the interview, Mr Odinga said his was a different view from that of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s camp that has demanded that the poll must be held within the 60 days ordered by the Supreme Court.

“There are two forces here: Those who want to go on with the sham election, irrespective of the consequences, and those who say no, it is not right to do it,” said Mr Odinga.

After Mr Odinga won a September 1 ruling, the electoral commission gazetted October 26 as the day for the fresh poll after the apex court annulled President Kenyatta’s August 8 win.

8 CANDIDATES

But Mr Odinga made a list of demands to the commission that he said should be met before the fresh polls, including the change of the ballot paper printer, the polls technology provider, and the resignation of top official Ezra Chiloba and 10 other senior officers of the polls agency.

Two weeks to the polls, Mr Odinga dramatically withdrew, and called for a new election 90 days after fresh nominations.

But a High Court ruling that allowed all the eight August 8 candidates to run in the fresh poll threw Mr Odinga back to the ballot, with President Kenyatta’s team saying it was Mr Odinga’s choice to participate in the poll or not.

These two different stances, with an electoral commission stuck in between, has led to weeks of protests by Mr Odinga supporters, and fervent calls by President Kenyatta’s team for the poll to continue.

In the interview, Mr Odinga termed as an attempt to intimidate Kenyans, and which he said must be responded to, the recent cases of Jubilee politicians wearing military jungle uniforms and red berets.

MILITARY

“Jubilee supporters are running around with military fatigue. They are trying to militarise politics in our country. You find even women politicians wearing the military jungle fatigues, basically intimidating the electorate,” he said.

In those situations, he said, his supporters were justified in “resisting militarisation and intimidation of the public.”

Questioned on his hard-line stance that his supporters had a right to resist the move, Mr Odinga said that right was enshrined in the Constitution.

“What we have told our supporters is to do peaceful demonstrations, carrying a placard and which is carrying the message, and with a white handkerchief, say that: No Reforms, No Elections,” the opposition chief said.

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