Kenya election chief delays poll again in the west

2 min

Nairobi (AFP)

Kenya’s embattled election chief said Friday he was postponing plans to restage a presidential poll in protest-hit western areas over fears for the safety of his staff.

The vote had been scheduled to take place on Saturday in four western counties where election-day violence had prevented most polling stations from opening during Thursday's divisive presidential re-run.

"Our job is to provide the necessary infrastructure for voting... and to make sure that Kenyans can exercise that right (to vote). However, when it comes to our staff, when their lives are in danger, as a commission we are deeply concerned," Chebukati said.

"The commission has deliberated on the various incidents happening in some parts of the country and has postponed the elections scheduled to take place tomorrow, Saturday, to a further date to be announced in the coming days."

The decision was likely to ease tensions in the four western counties where protests erupted on Friday.

Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga had geared for a fresh showdown with the security forces over a ballot they had widely boycotted on Thursday.

Election staff in those areas had been unable to open most of the polling stations, with local officials telling AFP they were too afraid to deliver ballot boxes or other voting material.

Thursday's vote was a re-run of an August election which was won by President Uhuru Kenyatta, but later overturned by the Supreme Court in a landmark decision which unleashed weeks of bitter infighting and violent protests.

Odinga's boycott has all but assured of Kenyatta a landslide victory although difficult questions remain over the credibility of an election shunned by a large part of Kenya's 19.6 million registered voters.