President Uhuru Kenyatta is cruising home to victory as the result of Kenya’s rerun election trickled in on Friday.
But it is an assumed victory that is tainted with early estimates of the turnout at below 35 percent, compared with the 80 per cent turnout in the 8 August election.
The poll snub by voters indicated that they heeded the call by the opposition leader Raila Odinga, to stay at home.
The first election, in August, was annulled by the courts because of procedural irregularities, denying Kenyatta a simple victory over his long-term political rival.
If the expected legal challenges fail to clear a path out of the crisis, including a possible order for another re-run, the stage is set for a protracted and economically damaging political stalemate between the Kenyatta and Odinga camps.
“Unless the courts annul the election, Kenyatta will move forward without a clear mandate and Odinga will pursue a protest strategy whose chances of success in the circumstances are not very high,” International Crisis Group analyst Murithi Mutiga said.
Voting on Thursday passed off without a hitch in pro-Kenyatta areas but was marred by skirmishes between police and stone-throwing opposition supporters in four pro-Odinga counties where polling stations were from prevented from opening.
The division was neatly captured in local media, with the Standard, a leading tabloid, headlining its front page: “One Kenya, two faces”.
The outcome is being closely watched across East Africa, which relies on Kenya as a trade and logistics hub, and in the West, which considers Nairobi a bulwark against Islamist militancy in Somalia and conflict in South Sudan and Burundi.
Election officials postponed voting in the trouble-spots – all staunchly pro-Odinga districts – for 48 hours although there is little prospects of the delay making any difference given the strict local adherence to the calls for a boycott.
In all, four people were shot dead by police – three in the pro-Odinga western city of Kisumu, governor Anyang Nyong‘o said, and one in the neighboring county of Homa Bay, according to police.
The election commission said more than one in 10 polling stations failed to open due to “security challenges”. Its chairman, Wafula Chebukati, tweeted overnight that 6.55 million ballots had been cast – just 34.5 percent of registered voters.
On Friday morning, shops started to re-open and traffic returned to Kisumu and the restive Nairobi slums of Kibera and Mathare, although the roads were littered with rocks and the remnants of burnt barricades.
Around 50 people have been killed, mostly by security forces, since the original Aug. 8 vote, raising fears of sustained violence only a decade after 1,200 people were killed in serious ethnic fighting triggered by another disputed vote.
EFF demands the sacking of South Africa’s finance minister Nene.
South Africa’s political players are headed for a collision course over the fate of the finance minister, who the Treasury on Tuesday said is traveling to Indonesia for an International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting.
Pressure has been piling on finance minister Nhlanhla Nene to resign, following his disclosure to the state-capture inquiry commission, that he had met the Gupta brothers between 2010 and 2013.
The Business Day on Monday reported that Nene had asked president Cyril Ramaphosa to relieve him of his duties as finance minister.
Ramaphosa’s office responded and said they were not aware of Nene’s request.
And on Tuesday, Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said the finance minister was expected to arrive in Indonesia on Wednesday.
Nene is also expected to read the mid-term budget later this month.
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The news that Nene is continuing with his duties is likely to anger opposition supporters including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), whose leader, Julius Malema on Monday asked Ramaphosa to sack Nene.
In a written letter to Ramaphosa, Malema argued that the country, whose economy is in recession, had very serious challenges that needed a credible finance minister to address them.
‘‘Public servants at all spheres and levels of government will have no obligation to responsibly manage state fiscal resources under a compromised minister of finance,’‘ Malema said.
He then added that that Nene can no longer inspire much needed confidence to revive the economy.
‘‘The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)‚ which is supposed to be a statement to build confidence amongst all important economic role players‚ cannot‚ and should not‚ be delivered by a minister who was part of the Gupta criminal syndicate.”
For the EFF, Nene’s position as finance minister is no longer tenable and they are determined to win what they are now calling a battle.
Malema had threatened on Sunday that streets protests might be organised to demand for the removal of Nene as finance minister.
The Gupta brothers are accused of using their friendship with former president Jacob Zuma to influence government decisions including unfairly winning state contrcats.
Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.
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South Africa: Ex-minister reveals Zuma’s Gupta deals.
South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday he was fired by former president Jacob Zuma for refusing to approve contracts that would financially benefit the Gupta family, friends of Zuma accused of corruption.
Nene, who was giving testimony at a judicial inquiry into influence-peddling, said the main reason he was he was sacked was for rejecting a proposed plan to build a fleet of nuclear power plants. The project could have cost up to $100 billion.
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Zuma and the Gupta family deny allegations they colluded to inappropriately divert state funds.
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