Kenya election ruling spurs hope for Odinga supporters


Anyango was at home in the evening when she heard “careless, non-stop shooting,” she says.

Terrified, she huddled with her 13-year-old son as the bullets rained down around their home.

“I have spent cartridges in my home and a crack in my roof. Body bags were also found inside the lake. We still don’t know how many people were killed,” she tells CNN.

Tensions have remained high since Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled the results of the contentious presidential election Friday and ordered a new election within 60 days.

After initially appearing to accept the decision, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday went on the offensive, stating there was a problem with the judiciary and he was going to fix it.

“We shall revisit this thing. We clearly have a problem,” he said.

“Who even elected you? … We have a problem and we must fix it,” he said, speaking on live television at the State House in Nairobi.

Fears of violence

Many are fearful that the Supreme Court’s ruling and the new, hardened stance from the President could spark a new wave of violence.

Bullet holes are seen outside Olympic Primary School in the Kibera slum.

One of the potential flashpoints, and an area that is being closely watched, is the Kibera slum.

In the midst of Kibera is the government-run Olympic Primary School. Locals say security forces fired indiscriminately at people living in Kibera after the initial election results and many of them were forced to shelter inside the school.

“The police intimidate people,” entrepreneur Erick Okothendo told CNN. “If you go for peaceful demonstration, you get killed. We saw people put in body bags. At the gate of Olympic Primary school in Kibera you can see bullets.

“Why were they shooting at a school?”

Erick Okothendo, an entrepreneur in Kibera.
Police helicopters hover over the dense and impoverished district, which is home to around 250,000 slum dwellers, according to the Kibera facts website.

Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa and a tinderbox mix of different tribes and ethnicities, ranging from the Luo to the predominantly Muslim Nubians who were the original settlers.

Today, the sprawling landscape is dotted with corrugated iron roof shacks amid mounds of rubbish and some brightly colored buildings.

‘Rekindling of hope’

Friday’s ruling was the first time any court in Africa has annulled election results. And it is notable in a continent where government typically leans heavily on the judicial system to do its bidding.

“If we don’t have faith in our independent institutions, it means that the country is dead, so it was not just about the elections but it was about this country,” Anyango said.

Anyango says she knows well the devastating effects of post-election violence after one of her mentees, a 15-year-old girl, was hit by a stray bullet in the aftermath of the 2007/2008 elections — one of the bloodiest in Kenya’s history. The election violence left 1,300 people dead and more than 500,000 people were displaced.

Since then, she says, she has gathered groups of women to protest peacefully and to become peace ambassadors in areas of heightened post-election tension.

Anyango is now a global peace ambassador working with international NGOs.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was a “rekindling of hope” in Kenya, she said.

However, she had scathing words for the team of international election observers, which included former US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kenyans linger near a wall with graffiti reading, "Peace wanted alive" in Nairobi's Kibera slum August 13, 2017.

“We are very disappointed in the international community. They came out and unanimously agreed that the elections were free and fair. The international community has desperately failed Kenyans,” Anyango said.

“They didn’t listen to what the opposition was bringing out. What this has shown me is that that Kenyans should be left to deal with their issues. They should not depend on anyone else to tell them what is good for them,” she added.

The annulment of the election result was a rare win for supporters of the veteran opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who brought the case against Kenyatta’s win to the Supreme Court.

Revered in Kibera

This year’s election bid was the fourth attempt for the 72-year-old, whose father was Kenya’s first vice president.

Jane Iskah Oyora and her 9-year-old daughter, Gift.

Jane Iskah Oyora, who runs a dressmaking business in Kibera while caring for her children Gift, 9, and Jeremy, 2 months, told CNN she “danced and danced” after she found out the court’s decision.

“I just love Raila Odinga. The way he speaks, he’s intelligent,” she said. “He has been successful four times but because of the rigging, that’s why he’s not managed it.”

Odinga attracts staunch support in parts of the Kibera slum, where he is revered as a man of the people who will make life better for the poor.

“He promised that our children will go to school without paying school fees,” Oyora said. “My biggest hope is that when he comes into power he will reduce the cost of living and my business will pick up.

“Life is very expensive. I want to move from here but I can’t afford the rent anywhere else.”

Some, like Okothendo, echo the sentiment that Odinga has been denied power because of cheating: “For the first time since I started voting, we got the justice,” he said, referring to the court ruling..

“In Kenya, people have been saying he (Odinga) is always complaining of stolen elections. The reality was that elections in Kenya had always been stolen.”

Some also see Odinga as a persecuted political figure in the mold of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Odinga has been imprisoned and had his wife and children targeted, and is Kenya’s longest serving detainee.

Peace ambassador Anyango said: “We support him because he’s the hope of so many Kenyans. We love his forgiving spirit and he brings everyone together.

“We want positive politics and he’s the person that can unite this country.”

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