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)

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