Presidential Voting Postponed Again in Western Kenya

KISUMU, KENYA Political and religious leaders in western Kenya warn that plans to re-attempt presidential polling in four counties will further inflame tensions.

The electoral commission postponed voting in those areas Thursday due to security concerns amid an opposition boycott. Late Friday, the electoral commission postponed the voting again, citing threats to electoral staff. No new date has been announced.

Residents in western Kenya, a stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga, say they plan to respect Odinga’s call to boycott the polls again.

“I am not going to vote and we will make sure no one goes to vote,” resident Joshua Ochieng said. “Because every time we vote, our victory is stolen. This should be the last time our victory is stolen.”

Violent unrest prevented polling stations from opening Thursday in the city of Kisumu, with youths blocking roads and clashing with security forces. Hospital officials tell VOA three people were killed by gunshot wounds and more than 50 were injured.

There were more protests Friday in some parts of western Kenya. Local media report that one person was shot dead in Bungoma County.

Church leaders in Kisumu gave a press conference Friday, saying they feared more bloodshed if election officials try to proceed with polling.

“We want to say categorically as church leaders, we don’t condone violence and we’ll never condone it in any other way, but every individual, every single human being, has a right to self-defense, and a time may come when our people may have to defense themselves, in whichever way possible,” Bishop David Kodiah of the Anglican Church of Kenya Bondo Diocese said.

Kisumu was mostly quiet Friday, with many streets clear to traffic and some shops open for business. However, youths took to the streets later in the day, burning tires and blocking some roads in the city. They told VOA they were trying to block the delivery of ballot papers.

Source: Voice of America