Kenyans, businesses decry political impasse amid vote
Nairobi, Kenya – Politicians are crisscrossing the country, holding rallies as poll day fast approaches, but many Kenyans have had enough and want to see an end to the political crisis gripping the country.
A presidential election rerun is expected to take place on October 26 after the Supreme Court annulled the results of the August’s poll won by Uhuru Kenyatta, citing “illegalities” and “irregularities” in the voting process.
“I’m boycotting the election. I have no confidence in them [the electoral body]. They are the same people that conducted the last election,” Dolphin Anyango tells Al Jazeera.
She sits on the cement floor outside her one-bedroom house in the East African country’s biggest slum, Kibera, praying for a lasting solution to the political impasse.
For the first time in more than 15 years, Anyango, 35, will not be casting her vote.
She has pressing reasons for wanting to see an end to the political dispute between President Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
“I look after two orphans. I make jewellery that I sell to foreign tourists and foreigners don’t come to places with tension and violence,” Anyango says.
“Before the dispute, I used to make 2,000 shillings a day ($19). Now I make nothing. And I still have rent and taxes to pay,” she adds.
Before September, presidential election results had never been thrown out.
The opposition has called on their supporters to boycott the October 26 vote, claiming the polls will not be free and fair.
Odinga, President Kenyatta’s main challenger, has also withdrawn from the race.
But the government has said the election will proceed and called on people to “exercise their democratic right”.
Aida Abdu Noor, a grandmother of five, lives a short drive from Anyango’s home and looks forward to casting her vote.
“If there is no violence, I will go out and vote because it is my right,” Noor, a cloth seller, tells Al Jazeera.
“No election is perfect. In every country, there are claims of votes been stolen. In Tanzania, it was like that. In Uganda the same thing. This problem exists everywhere,” the 56-year-old says.
Unlike previous elections, campaign posters are mostly missing from billboards on major roads in the capital, Nairobi.
But street demonstrations have been frequent and deadly.
The country has been in election mode since the start of the year and businesses are hurting.
“I used to travel to Tanzania and Uganda to buy and sell clothes. But out of fear, I haven’t been travelling lately. I’m waiting for the election to finish,” Noor says.
Analysts say it is understandable that Kenyans are not excited by the poll rerun.
“Ordinary Kenyans must really feel short-changed by what’s happened,” Irungu Houghton, a political analyst, tells Al Jazeera.
“We did think we had had a fair and free election,” he says. “But obviously what has happened is a number of illegalities and irregularities that went into the election have left most Kenyans worried about whether the election this time around will be something that we can be proud of.”
For Anyango, the jewellery maker, she just wants things to go back to normal.
“We want peace. We want democracy. But more than anything we want an end to this so we can go back and make a living,” she said.
|Dolphin Anyango wishes Kenya was stable so her business could prosper again [Hamza Mohamed/Al Jazeera]|