AU respects Raila’s decision on repeat poll

AU respects Raila's decision on repeat poll
Thambo Mbeki

African Union (AU) elections observers chairman Thabo Mbeki has confirmed they will be overseeing the October 26 repeat presidential poll.

Mr Mbeki noted that they respect opposition leader Raila Odinga’s withdrawal from the race, noting that it is his right to choose whether to participate in an election or not.

“It is NASA’s right to withdraw and we respect that, they too need to respect that of those who want to vote,” Mbeki said.

The AU observers said they are happy that IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati announced that the electoral body is ready for the elections.

The former South African head of state said they had also met with acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and they were assured of security during the electioneering period. In times where police will be needed, Mbeki urged the officers to discharge their duty in a rightful manner.

“We have had interactions with CS Matiang’i to discuss matters of security and indeed he gave us a detailed account of the matter,” added Mr Mbeki.

The AU team distanced itself from the African Elections Observers Group led by Robert Foulser which has been making remarks about IEBC saying that it is a separate group.

“There is a group of observers called African Election Observers Group which was not there during August poll. It is not part of AU group,” insisted Mr Mbeki.

He admitted that they did not do well in the August 8 election, saying: “We did not give the last election a clean bill of health but we issued a statement based on what we had observed.”

Mbeki further clarified that “We did not approach Raila Odinga to concede during August poll. We approached him to listen to the concerns he had raised about the election process.”

He added that they will be having a less number of observers compared to the August poll due to logistics.

Other election observation missions that have scaled down in the number of their observer teams include the Carter Center, European Union and Commonwealth. The groups have cited the tense and uncertain political situation as the reason for not deploying huge numbers like they did in the August 8 poll.

Meanwhile, Raila has instructed his supporters not to demonstrate tomorrow (October 26) even as they boycott the repeat presidential election.

Speaking at Uhuru Park on Wednesday afternoon, Odinga, who withdrew from the repeat poll, told NASA supporters to remain at home and not participate in the fresh election which he described as a sham.

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