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Sunday 15 September 2019

Crackdown on Kenya opposition protests ahead of fresh election

Opposition supporters demonstrate against electoral authorities in Kenya (AP)
Opposition supporters demonstrate against electoral authorities in Kenya (AP)

Kenya's government has banned opposition protests in their strongholds in the country's three biggest cities because of "imminent danger of breach of peace" as the fresh presidential election approaches.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said demonstrations are banned in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

The right to protest is enshrined in Kenya's constitution, "but we shall not allow a few people while purportedly exercising their freedoms to infringe on the rights of others", Mr Matiangi said on Thursday.

The minister claimed demonstrators had looted and attacked police stations.

But the opposition and human rights groups have accused the government of using police to clamp down on protests and police of using excessive force.

The government-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has said police killed at least 37 people, including a six-month-old baby, during protests after the results of the August vote were announced.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga this week withdrew from the October 26 vote after his legal challenge led the Supreme Court to nullify the August election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner.

Mr Odinga has said that without reforms to Kenya's election commission the new vote could be run worse than the first one, and he has called on supporters to protest for changes.

The Supreme Court on September 1 annulled Mr Kenyatta's re-election, citing "irregularities and illegalities" in the vote-counting and the electoral commission's refusal to allow scrutiny of its computer system.

The commission said on Wednesday the new election will go ahead with all eight of the candidates who ran in August and that Mr Odinga was still considered a candidate as he had not yet formally withdrawn.

No candidate aside from Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta received even 1% of the vote.

Kenyatta's Jubilee Party has been pursuing changes to the electoral law that the opposition says will make it more difficult for the Supreme Court to nullify a presidential election and will reduce safeguards against electoral fraud.

Parliament approved the amendments on Wednesday, and Mr Kenyatta is expected to sign them into law.


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