NAIROBI, September 5 — The Kenyan shilling lost ground Tuesday against the U.S. dollar as political bickering on the repeat of presidential polls intensified in Kenya.
Kenyan opposition the National Super Alliance (NASA) on Tuesday rejected Oct. 17 as the date set for new polls by the electoral commission, noting it was not consulted. NASA leader Raila Odinga threatened to boycott the polls.
The political uncertainly seemingly hit the shilling which went down slightly to trade at 103.2 from an average of 103 on Monday.
The Central Bank of Kenya quoted the local unit at 103.23 down from 103.16 on Monday as analysts blamed the fall to the prevailing political environment.
On the other hand, commercial banks placed the value of the shilling at between 103.23 and 103.35 to the dollar as traders noted the shilling was volatile but would be supported by rising inflows from exports, including horticulture.
Besides the uncertain political environment, the shilling is expected to be affected by rising dollar demand from importers.
Kenya’s forex reserves currently stand at 7.5 billion dollars, an equivalent to five months of import cover, which are, however, sufficient to provide buffer to the currency.
Against the British pound, the shilling gained marginally to close Tuesday at 133.75 up from 133.87.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga says he does not accept the date for the new presidential elections announced by the electoral commission.
Odinga said Tuesday the commission did not consult with his coalition on how the elections will be carried out and when, and he says the vote should not be limited to two candidates.
Odinga wants some of the commission’s officials to be prosecuted and says if the vote goes forward without “legal and constitutional guarantees” the results of the new election will not be different.
Kenya’s Supreme Court last week nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election because of irregularities and called for a new vote. The electoral commission says the election will be Oct. 17.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced that new presidential elections will take place on October 17.
The announcement followed the country’s Supreme Court overturning the result of last month’s poll which secured incumbent President Uhuru Kenyata a second-term in office.
“A fresh presidential election will be held on October 17, 2017,” said a statement released on Monday signed by Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the IEBC.
“This is in conformity with the Supreme Court decision annulling the presidential election held on August 8, 2017.”
However, unlike the August elections which saw a number of candidates running, in the October poll only Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, who challenged the results of the August results through the Supreme Court, will be on the ballot paper.
On Friday, Chief Justice David Maraga cancelled the results of the August poll saying the election commission had failed to hold a legitimate election and that the results were therefore “invalid, null and void”.
Maraga further accused the IEBC of committing “irregularities and illegalities” in the transmission of results from polling stations to the national tally centre.
The electoral commission has requested a full explanation from the court outlining its decision.
“It is imperative that a detailed judgement is released in order to allow the Commission to identify areas that require improvement,” said Chebukati.
In the interim Odinga and his supporters are demanding that the head of the electoral commission be replaced and that a different company print the ballot papers while also expressing dissatisfaction with the computer method of transmission.
Odinga’s complaints to the Supreme Court was his third attempt at challenging election results.
The disputed result of the 2007 election triggered widespread violence that left over 1,100 people dead, while in 2013 the Supreme Court threw out Odinga’s challenge.
Two-days of protests, in the slums of Nairobi and Kisumu two opposition strongholds, followed Kenyatta’s victory on August 11 as he took 54 percent of the vote.
Reports say at least 21 people, including a baby and a nine-year-old girl, were killed, mostly by police.