Business as usual in Kenya after disputed presidential elections

Kenyans largely ignore defeated Odinga’s call to strike.

It was largely business as usual in Kenya on 14 August despite a strike call from opposition leader Raila Odinga in grievance over the outcome of the 8 August presidential elections, which returned Uhuru Kenyatta of the multi-party Jubilee Alliance to power for a second five-year term with 54.17 per cent of the vote.

Odinga, who polled 44.94 per cent with the National Super Alliance (NASA) in his fourth consecutive presidential election defeat, is disputing the results on grounds of alleged irregularities.

Even in his historic strongholds of Kisumu in western Kenya and the densely populated Nairobi slums of Kibera and Mathare, local and international media reported that people were eager to get back to work after post-election uncertainty left shops and businesses closed for several days.

“Unless Raila and his team personally put food on my table… going to work is not an option for me,” said one Kenyan in a post to her Twitter account under the hashtag #TurudiKazini (“Let’s return to work” in Swahili), voicing popular sentiment.

The announcement of the results on 11 August sparked clashes with police that left 24 people dead according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. The victims included a 10-year-old girl who was reportedly hit by a stray bullet in Mathare.

Odinga, 72, is being urged to take his complaint to the courts amid fears of a repeat of the violence that followed the 2007 presidential elections in which an estimated 1,100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced across the country.

The veteran politician has until 18 August to appeal to the supreme court, but he has already said that this is not an option and is now reported to be mulling his next move.

Meanwhile, Wafula Chebukati, chairman of Kenya’s independent electoral and boundaries commission, has admitted that hackers tried to tamper with the poll system but that they had been unsuccessful.

International observers claim the elections were free and fair.

The 2013 elections saw Kenyatta, the son of Kenya's first president and 'founding father' Jomo Kenyatta and heir to one of the country’s biggest fortunes, beat Odinga by just 50.07 per cent, avoiding a run-off thanks to the requirement of a simple majority threshold. 

There were no reports of major violence on that occasion.