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Kenya passes contentious election law amendment

October 11, 2017

Soon after opposition head Raila Odinga dropped Kenya's election rerun, lawmakers passed a bill making it easier to name President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner. But a recent court ruling means he may face a new challenger.

A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the presidential election in Kenya
Image: Reuters/T. Mukoya

Kenya's parliament approved an election law amendment on Wednesday that outlines if a candidate withdraws from a repeat presidential election, the remaining contender would automatically be declared the winner.

Lawmakers announced that the bill had passed on Twitter, writing that the measure allows for "manual results transmission" and "other amendments."

Those other amendments include the clause that determines who will win in the event that one of the candidates drops out of the rerun.

Read moreKenya opposition leader Raila Odinga withdraws from presidential election

The bill states "where only one candidate remains after the withdrawal, the remaining candidate shall be declared elected forthwith as the President-elect without any election being held."

The law now awaits a signature from the president to take effect, said parliamentary spokesman Martin Mutua. The vote was boycotted by opposition lawmakers.

Odinga withdraws from Kenya election re-run

The move comes one day after opposition leader Raila Odinga withdrew from the rerun of the presidential vote that was scheduled to take place on October 26.

He cited fairness and transparency issues with the electoral commission as his reason for withdrawing.

Judge gives go-ahead to minor opposition candidate

Further complicating matters, a Kenyan judge ruled on Wednesday that a minor opposition candidate would be allowed to take part in the repeat election.

Ekuru Aukot, who received less than 1 percent of the vote the first time around, may now face off against President Uhuru Kenyatta in the rerun.

"I find nothing to bar the petitioner from contesting the fresh election," said Justice John Mativo.

Aukot told reporters outside the courthouse that he was also concerned about the election board, but would soon issue a statement about his plans.

Kenya's Supreme Court annulled the results of the country's August election, in which President Kenyatta was declared the winner, citing procedural irregularities.

Odinga had challenged the results, saying hackers infiltrated the electoral commission's computer system. His party has been calling for a completely new election board for the election rerun, blaming some of its officials for the electoral issues.

rs/kms (AP, Reuters)