Kenyan president Kenyatta calls for prayers ahead of elections

NAKURU, KENYA (OCTOBER 22, 2017) (PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICES) – President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kenyans to uphold peace before, during and after October 26, the day set aside for a repeat presidential election.

Kenya is holding the re-run after the Supreme Court threw out the result of an Aug. 8 election won by the incumbent Kenyatta but disputed by the challenger Raila Odinga. The opposition leader has refused to participate in the re-run, arguing that reforms were needed first to prevent fraud.

The opposition has demanded the resignation of the election commission’s Chief Executive officer Ezra Chiloba.

The recent announcement that Chiloba, who took three weeks leave, will not participate in running the vote suggests progress in behind-the-scenes negotiations involving Western diplomats and religious and civil society leaders.

Uncertainty over whether Odinga will participate in the election and concerns that it may not proceed peacefully have left Kenya, a traditionally stable Western ally in an often chaotic region, mired in political crisis.

The volatile build-up to the Oct. 26 vote has revived memories for Kenyans of ethnically charged violence that killed around 1,200 people after a disputed election in 2007, when Odinga also lost and disputed the result.

Kenyatta said the election must not divide the nation or push it to the brink that was experienced in 2007-2008 period.