Odinga Dismisses Financial Times Report Over Election Violence

Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has dismissed a Financial Times story in which he was quoted as warning of “consequences” if he loses the upcoming general elections.

The article, brazenly titled “Odinga warns of trouble if he loses poll,” was posted on the British newspaper’s website on Friday after Odinga gave an interview in which he discussed his rival’s efforts to “rig” the elections, as the country prepares to go to the polls on Monday.

However, Odinga’s office dismissed the article, stating that the prime minister did not “speak of violence should he lose the elections as reported by the Financial Times today.”

“Prime Minister Raila Odinga is deeply intrigued and feels absolutely slandered by the story appearing in the Financial Time that implies he will not accept defeat in the Monday elections however free and fair,” a statement from his office said.

Odinga, however, acknowledged that he gave an interview to the Financial Times and the BBC at two short intervals, but denied speaking of violence.

The statement also outlined Odinga’s plans in the event that he loses the election by referring to his sportsmanship, stating that Odinga “understands losing and winning as part of the game.”

“I strongly believe I am going to win this election, and in round one. However, in the likely event that I lose, I believe there will be a role for me in Kenya. I can write my memoirs, I have a family to take care of, and, most importantly, I have a party that I will continue to guide so we can deepen democracy in Kenya,” the statement said.

The FT article also quoted an anonymous election analyst who said that Odinga is “positioning himself to reject the result.”

The story comes at a time when Kenyans are riling on social media with regards to a news report by CNN, which showed an unnamed militia in Kenya’s Rift Valley region exercising in the bush with machetes and homemade guns. The report, titled “Armed as Kenyan vote nears,” caused an uproar, with Kenyans on Twitter, better known as KOT, using hashtags like #SomeoneTellCNN to force the news cable to remove the video.

But in an email to the Nation Media Group, Jonathan Hawking, CNN’s regional press manager, defended the news channel’s report, saying “We stand by our decision to report this story and have taken great care to place it in context.

“The potential threat of violence has been well documented by Human Rights Watch and the Kenyan Police among others; in this context we felt the actions of the local Kikuyu militia in the Rift Valley warranted scrutiny,” Hawking said.

Presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta hails from the Kikuyu tribe, his running mate William Ruto from the Kalenjin tribe, while Odinga is from the Luo tribe.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the ethnic clashes following the 2007 general elections, and more than half a million people were displaced within the country.

Kenyans on Twitter expressed their reactions to the Financial Times story.

A day earlier, Kenyans also tweeted about the story on CNN regarding militias arming themselves in Rift Valley ahead of the elections.

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