Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | Kenya Police and revenue authority KRA officers on Wednesday morning raided the headquarters of the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG), a day after the interior ministry’s NGO Board ordered the shut down of the NGO.
KRA and Police officers argued for hours with lawyers of AfricCOG who questioned the vailidity of the search warrant they came along with. They were denied entry and KRA explained they had called off the raid to look into AfriCOG’s complaints on the issue.
Soon after, acting Interior CS Fred Matiang’i directed the NGO Board executive director Fazul Mahamed to stop any action on organisations for up to 90 days to meet regulations.
All this comes as Kenya’s government moved to shut down two rights organisations who have been contemplating court action over last week’s disputed presidential election.
The interior ministry’s NGO Board had on Tuesday asked police to shut down the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and arrest its members.
On Monday, the NGO Board had also said it was withdrawing the registration of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) over alleged irregularities.
— KHRC (@thekhrc) August 16, 2017
— The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya) August 16, 2017
ACTING INTERIOR CS Matiangi suspends action by NGO Coordination Board against KHRC, AfriCOG pending probe by team headed by Karanja Kibicho. pic.twitter.com/R4ZnK9eJPy
— NationBreakingNews (@NationBreaking) August 16, 2017
KHRC board member Maina Kiai said Tuesday it was “no secret” they had been considering lodging a complaint at the Supreme Court over “inconsistencies” in the election process.
And AfriCOG, which had filed several court petitions challenging the electoral commission ahead of the election, said it was also weighing a complaint over the poll.
“Going to court was one of the options we were discussing with other organisations. But we had not taken a decision yet,” said the group’s executive director Gladwell Otieno.
According to Kenya’s electoral laws, complaints about the election must be submitted to the Supreme Court by Friday.
Raila Odinga, the defeated opposition leader of the National Super Alliance (NASA), has denounced the result of the vote as a fix, but has so far resisted calls to challenge it in the courts.
But civil society organisations can also file legal petitions challenging the results or conduct of the vote.
The interior ministry’s NGO Board said it was acting against the KHRC over unpaid taxes, a lack of work permits for foreign staff, and illegal bank accounts.
It had said it had moved against AfriCOG because it was not properly registered as an NGO and was illegally operating as a “charitable organisation”.
“These people who may go to court are being de-registered,” Kiai said.
“There has been a lot of emphasis across the country urging people to go to court if they have any grievances,” he added.
“We have been meeting here… there is no secret about it… there is thinking about whether we should or should not” go to court, he added.
“Once you close off avenues for legal, non-violent peaceful redress, you open up a can of worms, and the state needs to be very clear about what it wants to do.”
Odinga has claimed he was the rightful winner and not President Uhuru Kenyatta, and NASA said a major hacking attack manipulated electronic results sent in from polling stations.
The disputed election have already sparked protests that at times turned violent over the weekend, leaving at least 16 people dead and 177 injured.