Balance of Power: Kenya Shocker Could Reshape Political Landscape

Who said democracy in Africa is dead?

In a shock move this morning, Kenya's top court annulled elections last month that gave incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta a second-term. Its decision to support the opposition's claim of ballot-rigging means a new vote must be held in East Africa's biggest economy in two months.

The ruling -- unprecedented in Africa -- sparked dancing in the streets in the capital, Nairobi, and in Kisumu, stronghold of opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

It may be less welcomed by investors in Kenya, the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google and Coca Cola. The shilling, bonds and the stock market immediately dropped.

With violence having overshadowed five of the seven elections held since the advent of multiparty democracy in 1991, the ability to stage a peaceful (and credible) vote will be as keenly watched as the outcome.

Supporters of Kenya's National Super Alliance (NASA) celebrate after the Supreme Court ordered a re-run of the presidential vote.
Photographer: SIMON MAINA/AFP

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Global Headlines

Harvey help (with a catch) | Trump may ask Congress to attach a debt-limit increase to an initial $6 billion aid request for Hurricane Harvey that he could make as soon as today, Margaret Talev reports. Shackling the disaster cash to the debt cap is meant to lower the risk of a U.S. default before an end-of-month deadline for Congress to act. The president is set to make a second trip to the storm-ravaged area tomorrow.

China’s big conclave | In the world's most populous nation, only a handful of people pick its leaders. The next Communist Party congress will likely begin on Oct. 18 and the big question is whether President Xi Jinping will select a successor. Either way, he’s likely to come out of it stronger and that could help him with needed reforms, as well as with Trump pressure on trade and North Korea.

Chiles cabinet exodus | The entire economic team quit yesterday over disputes involving a $2.5 billion iron-ore project. It couldn’t come at a worse moment for President Michelle Bachelet as she races to push through pension reform. The departures also undermine the ruling coalition’s candidate in the November presidential election, and may open the way for the head of the opposition, billionaire Sebastian Pinera.

German schadenfreude | True Brexit supporters often fall back on the belief that Germany will come riding to the rescue and help win better terms for Britain’s exit from the European Union. A look at the party platforms for this month's election shows that's unlikely, whatever the outcome. It’s not Schadenfreude, it's just that all the main parties are pro-EU and can't understand the logic of leaving.

So much for rapprochement | The State Department told Russia to close three buildings in the U.S., including its consulate in San Francisco. It was a response to the demand that Washington cut its diplomatic staff in Russia, itself a reaction to tougher American sanctions against Moscow. As Nick Wadhams reports, it illustrates just how low relations between the nuclear powers have spiraled since Trump came to office.

And finally... Many were hoping Harriet Tubman, a former slave, was going to become the first woman and first minority to appear on U.S. paper currency. But yesterday Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that the Obama-era plan to put her on the $20 bill instead of Andrew Jackson - a populist president who Trump admires - was under review. “Right now we have a lot more important issues to focus on,” Mnuchin said.

Harriet Tubman, American anti-slavery activist, c1900.
Photographer: Print Collector/Hulton Archive
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