Thursday, 19 October, 2017

Kenyan police use teargas to disperse opposition protesters

Raila Odinga still in the race- Orengo tells Uhuru Orengo now says Raila is still in the race for president
Melinda Barton | 13 October, 2017, 22:55

NAN reports that several people were injured in protests in Kenya on Wednesday, a day after opposition leader Raila Odinga announced he would quit the presidential race, in a move that plunged the country into uncharted waters. In Odinga's western stronghold of Kisumu, thousands of protesters took to the street, blocking roads, setting heaps of tyres alight and engaging in running battles with police.

President Kenyatta has voiced public support for new election reforms but has also said the election would go ahead, with or without Odinga.

Opposition coalition Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya said police have allowed government supporters into the banned protest areas and that they were attacking opposition supporters. One is badly injured. A separate healthworker at the same hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, said eight people had been admitted "with gunshot wounds". In Nairobi riot police were deployed ahead of expected protests.

Police in coastal Mombasa fired teargas at a crowd trying to march into the city. Kenya's Supreme Court last month annulled the August election citing widespread irregularities in the counting process and mismanagement by election officials, and called for a re-run within 60 days. Odinga demanded deep reforms that the election commission (IEBC) said were impossible to deliver in the constitutionally mandated period.

However the IEBC appears to be pushing forward with plans for an October 26 vote, saying only that Odinga had yet to submit the required form to officially pull out of the race.

Opposition legislator James Orengo said the law will lower safeguards against vote-rigging by making the preferred system of transmitting election results a manual one.

Odinga's withdrawal this week has thrown the country into political turmoil. Human rights groups protested, with some pointing out that police have killed at least 37 people in demonstrations since the results of the August election were announced.

Many observers agreed the 2007 election was deeply flawed, and it triggered politically motivated tribal violence that left more than 1,100 dead.

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

Kenyatta said he has two weeks to consider the amendment to the country's electoral law, which was passed by Parliament on Wednesday amid strong criticism.