Kenya bans protests ahead of presidential poll repeat
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