Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance (NASA) supporters clash outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, Sept. 20, 2017. (Xinhua/Fred Mutune)
NAIROBI, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Standoff between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga continued to divide Kenya as the Thursday repeat elections draw near.
The leaders have maintained their hardline positions on the polls, with Kenyatta saying the elections must go on for the country to move forward while Odinga is determined to stop them, insisting that there would be no elections on Oct. 26.
The leaders in the past days have talked tough against each other. Kenyatta accused Odinga of trying to stall the country's progress by rejecting the repeat polls.
"We can not each day struggle to meet the demands of one person so that our lives stall. We will go on with the elections and those who boycott should dare disrupt the polls," Kenyatta said Friday during Heroes' Day celebrations.
Meanwhile, Odinga accused Kenyatta of seeking to force himself on Kenyans through flawed elections and called for protests against the polls.
"We will not go to the poll again when the process has not been properly rectified. Already the rigging plot is in place," Odinga said on Sunday at a rally in western Kenya, his stronghold.
Lawyers from both sides have argued for and against the polls, with the backing from the constitution and other laws.
While those allied to Kenyatta's Jubilee Party noted that the elections should be held as ordered by the Supreme Court in 60 days to avoid a constitutional crisis, those from Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA) observe that the apex court only ordered for a free and fair poll, which the electoral agency chairman said can not be guaranteed on Oct. 26.
"The Supreme Court said we must go to the elections in 60 days and that is the law we are following. It is the opposition that went to court to nullify the Aug. 8 polls yet they are running away from it," said Kibe Mungai, a constitutional lawyer.
"Jubilee can chest-thump by deploying the police and the military and even call for prayers as many times as they wish but the fact remains that there would be no election on Oct. 26," said Norman Magaya, NASA CEO and an advocate.
The divergent views have left many Kenyans confused of what happens next after the Thursday poll.
"Some people have predicted Armageddon, others have said the country would now take off after the polls, I do not know which side to believe. I will wait and see," said Stephen Nyachae, a bus driver in Nairobi.
Nyachae, an opposition supporter, said he would boycott the polls as requested by NASA leader Odinga because they would not be free and fair.
"That day I will not even leave the house, but the biggest questions in my mind currently is what happens next after the polls. Would Kenyatta have the full authority to lead the country? What would the opposition leader Odinga do?" said Nyachae.
Gladys Muhatia, a primary school teacher in Butula, western Kenya said she had put her faith in God that all would go well, but would wait and see.
"We have seen the heavy deployment of police and the military across the country by the government which assures me that there may be no violence and elections would go on, but what country would we have?" she paused, noting that there may even be no elections on Oct. 26.
Odinga on Saturday promised to stop the election on Oct. 26 in a way no one expected, a statement that has heightened expectations among both his supporters and Kenyatta's.
"I want to believe that there would be elections on Oct. 26 as planned but I can not underestimate Odinga. He may do something like going to court to stop them. So my attitude right now is just to wait and see, if they come I would vote, if they don't, I won't but I am praying for peace," said James Kiarie, a clothes seller and Jubilee supporter.
Observers, led by the African Electoral Observation Group, have predicted that Kenya would end up in a constitutional crisis if the outcome of the polls that millions are expected to boycott is contested on the political front based on the number of voters who turn up at the ballot.
Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted that Kenya is at a crossroad that no one seems to be sure of what would happen after Oct. 26.
"No one can tell with certainty what would happen, to the Jubilee supporters, Kenya would move on, as Kenyatta would be sworn-in as president, but to Odinga supporters, the crisis would persist. What I am certain about is that we would have a country that is divided like never before," he said.