Kenya bans opposition protests as election crisis deepens
NAIROBI: Kenya’s government on Thursday banned protests in main city centers, 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 Oct. 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 inspector general of police has been advised accordingly.”
The protests have seen hundreds of opposition supporters march through the streets, sometimes burning tires and clashing with police who have used tear gas to disperse crowds.
Though relatively small, the protests have caused outsized disruption, forcing shops to close up and deterring some from visiting city centers on demonstration days.
There have also been incidents of pickpocketing and muggings on the edges of the protests.
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 organizer that all participants remain peaceful. The organizers shall be held personally liable for any breach of law during the demonstrations,” he said.
Kenya's opposition supporters protest over claims of bungling the August presidential vote, on Monday. (AFP)