Kenya bans protests ahead of pres­i­den­tial poll re­peat

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD - Tris­tan McCon­nell

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

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.

The protests have seen hun­dreds of op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers march through the streets, some­times burn­ing tyres and clash­ing with po­lice who have used tear­gas to dis­perse crowds.

Though rel­a­tively small, the protests have caused out­sized dis­rup­tion, forc­ing shops to close and de­ter­ring peo­ple from vis­it­ing city cen­tres on demon­stra­tion days.

There have also been in­ci­dents of pick-pock­et­ing and mug­gings on the edges of the protests.

Threat­en­ing le­gal ac­tion, Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Fred Ma­tiangi said the protests had re­sulted in at­tacks on po­lice sta­tions and po­lice of­fi­cers, oc­ca­sion­ing griev­ous bod­ily harm.

He said there had also been se­ri­ous dis­rup­tion of nor­mal busi­ness, as­sault of in­no­cent civil­ians, de­struc­tion and loot­ing of prop­erty.

Odinga said this week that he was with­draw­ing from the sched­uled re­run 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.

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

Vi­o­lence in the days fol­low­ing Au­gust’s vote left at least 37 peo­ple dead, ac­cord­ing to a hu­man rights group, which claimed al­most all of the vic­tims had been killed by po­lice. – AFP

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