Kenya’s Raila Odinga calls strike as he mulls options

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. (Source: Reuters) Related News

Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga has urged his supporters to stay home from work on Monday to mourn those killed in protests over what he claims was a rigged election, while he mulls his next move. Government officials have urged citizens to return to work, after days of anxiety since last Tuesday’s election left Nairobi — a bustling city of more than three million people — near-deserted. On Sunday, life appeared to slowly be returning to normal with businesses opening and deadly protests that erupted Friday night after the election result fizzling out as Odinga’s supporters await his next move.

At least 16 people have died in protests in Odinga’s strongholds, according to an AFP tally, many shot dead by police.

“We are not done yet. We will not give up. Wait for the next course of action which I will announce the day after tomorrow (Tuesday),” Odinga told a crowd of thousands in Nairobi’s slum Kibera on Sunday.

“Do not go to work tomorrow. Let us mourn the innocent people killed by police.”

It was his first appearance since the election commission (IEBC) on Friday declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the victor of a vote that Odinga says was rigged.

The 72-year-old and his National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition believe he was the rightful winner, and that results which came in via an electronic tallying system were hacked and manipulated.

Foreign observers praised election day as peaceful and credible and expressed confidence in the IEBC, but have not commented on the counting process.

The United Nations, Britain and the European Union have beseeched Odinga to send out a message to restrain his supporters from protesting, and instead use legal means to address his concerns.

In asking his supporters to stay home, he also urged them to avoid police, but many are hanging on for instructions come Tuesday.

“It was quiet and we were worried, because we did not know the plan. Now, we’re very ready for whatever will come,” said Duncan Nyamo, an Odinga supporter in Kibera. “We are ready to die.”

Politics in Kenya is largely divided along tribal lines, and the winner-takes-all nature of elections has long stoked communal divisions.

Three of Kenya’s four presidents have been Kikuyu and the other Kalenjin, leaving Luos and other major ethnic groups feeling excluded from power and marginalised for over half a century.

In 2007, Odinga and his allies claimed an election was stolen by Mwai Kibaki — a Kikuyu. Foreign observers agreed there had been irregularities.

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