Eleven western envoys, including those from the U.S. and Britain, Sunday urged Kenya’s opposition leader to recognize President Uhuru Kenyatta as the country’s legitimately elected leader.
The diplomats said Odinga needs to accept Kenyatta is president “as the basis for the dialogue that it (the opposition) and many Kenyans want.”
“We are deeply concerned by recent political developments in Kenya. Both the government and the opposition have taken steps that have undermined Kenya’s institutions, and driven wedges among its citizen,” said the statement released Sunday.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga held a mock inauguration Jan. 29 in which he was sworn in as the “people’s president.” The government reacted by shutting down some broadcasters and arresting some participants.
The government also deported Odinga’s advisor Miguna Miguna despite five court orders saying he should be produced in front of a judge and released on bail.
The diplomats in their statement urged the government to follow the law.
“We strongly urge the Government to comply fully with court orders and follow legal process in appealing or contesting them,” they said, “freedom of expression, freedom of the media, and all civil rights need to be protected.”
Kenya’s law society announced Sunday its members will boycott court proceedings for a week and hold and a demonstration on Feb 15, to protest the government failure to obey court orders, in what they have dubbed a “yellow ribbon” campaign.
“There is no question that our nation now faces perhaps the greatest challenge to the rule of law in recent times with the violation of rights and the brazen disregard of court orders by state and public officers witnessed in the past number of days,” Law Society of Kenya president Isaac Okero said in a statement. He said only lawyers representing electoral petitions are exempted from the boycott.
Odinga charges he was cheated of victory in the August election by hackers who altered the vote. Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified that election after Odinga challenged Kenyatta’s win. The court ordered a fresh election which Odinga boycotted saying significant electoral reforms were needed. Kenyatta refused the reforms Odinga was asking for and instead his party changed electoral law to make it harder for the courts to nullify results.
Odinga, in an interview with The Associated Press last year, accused western diplomats of supporting the Kenyatta government. “They say they are Kenya’s friends, then they are friends Kenya is better without,” said Odinga. “If they are our friends then we do not need enemies.”