Kenya bans op­po­si­tion ral­lies as cri­sis over elec­tion deep­ens

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD - Tris­tan McCon­nell

KENYA’S govern­ment yes­ter­day banned protests in city cen­tres, cit­ing law­less­ness dur­ing op­po­si­tion ral­lies against the elec­toral com­mis­sion ahead of a sched­uled pres­i­den­tial poll re-run.

The move comes as op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga called for daily protests next week to keep up pres­sure on elec­tion of­fi­cials to re­form, af­ter his re­fusal to take part in the Oc­to­ber 26 vote plunged the coun­try into un­cer­tainty.

“Due to the clear, present and im­mi­nent dan­ger of breach of peace, the govern­ment no­ti­fies the pub­lic that, for the time be­ing, we will not al­low demon­stra­tions within the cen­tral busi­ness dis­tricts of Nairobi, Mom­basa and Kisumu,” said Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Fred Ma­tiangi.

The protests have seen hun­dreds of op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers march through the streets, some­times burn­ing tyres and clash­ing with po­lice who have used tear gas to dis­perse crowds. Though small, the protests have caused out­sized dis­rup­tion.

Ma­tiangi said the protests had re­sulted in “at­tacks on po­lice sta­tions, at­tacks on po­lice of­fi­cers oc­ca­sion­ing griev­ous bod­ily harm, se­ri­ous dis­rup­tion of nor­mal busi­ness, as­sault on in­no­cent civil­ians, de­struc­tion and loot­ing of prop­erty”, and threat­ened le­gal ac­tion.

“It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the or­gan­iser that all par­tic­i­pants re­main peace­ful. The or­gan­is­ers shall be held per­son­ally li­able for any breach of law dur­ing the demon­stra­tions,” he said.

Odinga said this week that he was with­draw­ing from the sched­uled re-run, against Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta whose vic­tory in the orig­i­nal Au­gust poll was an­nulled last month by the Supreme Court cit­ing wide­spread ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Odinga said that with­out fun­da­men­tal re­forms to the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC), the vote would not be free and fair.

“All in­di­ca­tions are that the elec­tion sched­uled for 26 Oc­to­ber will be worse than the pre­vi­ous one,” he said, an­nounc­ing his with­drawal on Tues­day.

The IEBC has dis­missed most of Odinga’s de­mands and on Wed­nes­day said he had not filled in the ap­pro­pri­ate form with­draw­ing from the re-run and there­fore was still a can­di­date along­side Keny­atta.

The com­mis­sion also agreed to add six can­di­dates who con­tested the orig­i­nal poll af­ter the High Court ruled they should not be ex­cluded.

OnWed­nes­day, sev­eral peo­ple were in­jured in the western city of Kisumu, where pro­test­ers clashed with po­lice.

The ban­ning of demon­stra­tions sets the stage for more vi­o­lence if NASA lead­ers push ahead with their threat to protest, with the next one due for to­day.

Vi­o­lence in the days fol­low­ing Au­gust’s vote left at least 37 dead, with al­most all of the vic­tims killed by po­lice, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal hu­man rights group.

YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP AFP

An man holds a plac­ard dur­ing a protest against In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials over claims of bungling the Au­gust pres­i­den­tial vote, in Kisumu, Kenya, on Wed­nes­day.

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