Elec­tion protests are banned in three Kenyan cities

The Guardian - - INTERNATIONAL -

Kenya’s gov­ern­ment has banned protests in three city cen­tres, cit­ing law­less­ness dur­ing op­po­si­tion ral­lies against the elec­toral com­mis­sion be­fore a sched­uled pres­i­den­tial vote re­run on 26 Oc­to­ber.

The op­po­si­tion leader, Raila Odinga, has called for daily protests next week to keep up pres­sure on elec­tion of­fi­cials, af­ter his re­fusal to take part in the poll 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 the se­cu­rity min­is­ter, Fred Ma­tiang’i.

Hun­dreds of op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers have marched in re­cent weeks, some­times burn­ing tyres and clash­ing with po­lice, who have used tear­gas to dis­perse crowds.

Though rel­a­tively small, the protests have been dis­rup­tive, forc­ing shops to close and de­ter­ring some peo­ple from vis­it­ing city cen­tres. There have also been in­ci­dents of pick­pock­et­ing and mug­gings on the edges of the protests.

Ma­tiang’i 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.

“The or­gan­is­ers shall be held per­son­ally li­able for any breach of law,” he said.

Odinga said this week he was with­draw­ing from the sched­uled re­run against the pres­i­dent, Uhuru Keny­atta, whose vic­tory in the orig­i­nal vote in Au­gust was an­nulled in Septem­ber by the supreme court be­cause of 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 the elec­tion sched­uled for 26 Oc­to­ber will be worse than the pre­vi­ous one,” he said on Tues­day.

The IEBC has dis­missed most of Odinga’s de­mands and said on Wed­nes­day that he had not filled in the ap­pro­pri­ate form with­draw­ing from the re­run 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.

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