Kenya’s president warns judiciary not to help opposition

Uhuru Kenyatta
Uhuru Kenyatta became president in 2013

Kenya’s president has warned the country’s judiciary not to help the opposition throw the next election into disarray.

The presidential poll will take place next month and Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking re-election.

On Friday, after a case brought by the opposition, the High Court ordered the electoral commission not to print ballot papers.

Mr Kenyatta insisted the election would go ahead as planned.

“This kind of intimidation will not be allowed and the election date will not change,” he said.

He said the judiciary could not claim independence and then use it to interfere with the functioning of the executive and other arms of government.

The High Court argued that the tendering process for the ballot papers had not been transparent enough.

The opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) alleged that the president had links to Al Ghurair, the Dubai-based firm that won the $24m (£18m) tender.

Al Ghurair and Mr Kenyatta deny any wrongdoing.

The judges ruled that the company could still print ballots for the parliamentary and county elections, but the tender for presidential ballots should be re-advertised.

Supporters of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) led by Raila Odinga listen as he delivers a speech during a rally held in Nairobi, 7 July 2017.
Mr Odinga’s party alleges improper links between the president and the firm printing ballots

Local media have reported that whoever takes on the job of printing and distributing the ballot papers will have just 30 days to do what is usually a 45-day task.

In a separate development, Raila Odinga, Mr Kenyatta’s main contender, was taken ill and admitted to hospital on Sunday with what his campaign team said was suspected food poisoning.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga in hospital
NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga hospitalised in Mombasa photo:courtesy

Mr Odinga, speaking shortly after he was discharged from the hospital in the coastal city of Mombasa, said that he was “fit as a fiddle”.

“I had stomach pains, which have since disappeared after getting treatment,” Mr Odinga said, adding: “I have been discharged to go to Nairobi to continue with my campaigns.”

Meanwhile, several people have reportedly been killed in clashes between rival political groups, rekindling memories of post-election violence in 2007-2008 that left more than 1,000 people dead.

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