NAIROBI – The chief executive of Kenya’s electoral board, whose sacking the opposition has demanded ahead of a presidential election re-run due next week, said on Friday he was taking three weeks’ leave.
Uncertainty over who will participate in the election and concerns that it may not proceed peacefully have left Kenya, a traditionally stable Western ally in an often chaotic region, mired in political crisis.
The volatile build-up to the Oct. 26 vote has revived memories for Kenyans of ethnically charged violence that killed around 1,200 people after a disputed election in 2007.
Electoral board CEO Ezra Chiloba told Reuters that, in light of the opposition’s demands, he was going on leave, and that all arrangements for next week’s vote were in place.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, the main challenger to President Uhuru Kenyatta in an election in August that was subsequently nullified, has said he will boycott the re-run unless several demands, including the sacking of Chiloba, are met.
At least 45 people died nationwide in the police crackdown on opposition supporters after the August vote, including a six-month old baby struck on the head by a police baton.
It was unclear if Chiloba’s announcement might prompt a change of stance from Odinga, whose spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
“The crystal ball is very cloudy at the moment,” a senior western diplomat in Nairobi told Reuters. “The situation is changing by the hour.”-REUTERS