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Western envoys urge Kenya opposition to recognize Kenyatta

By Tom Odula Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya – Eleven western envoys, including those from the United States and Britain, urged Kenya’s opposition leader Sunday to recognize President Uhuru Kenyatta as the country’s legitimately elected leader.

The diplomats said Raila Odinga needs to accept Kenyatta’s presidency “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,” the envoys said in a statement.

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 adviser, Miguna Miguna, despite five court orders for him to 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 that its members will hold a Feb. 15 demonstration to protest the government’s failure to obey court orders. The society’s plan for lawyers to boycott court proceedings for a week was postponed.

“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” Law Society of Kenya President Isaac Okero said in a statement.

Odinga claims he was cheated of victory in Kenya’s August presidential election by hackers who altered the vote. Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the results of that election after Odinga challenged Kenyatta’s win.

The court ordered a fresh election, which Odinga boycotted, saying significant electoral reforms were needed. Kenyatta’s party instead changed electoral law to make it harder for courts to nullify results.

Odinga, in an interview with the Associated Press last year, accused western diplomats of supporting the Kenyatta government.

“If they are our friends, then we do not need enemies,” he said.

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