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Kenya police use tear gas to disperse opposition protests

FILE PHOTO: Kenyan riot police officers raise batons over a man during a demonstration of Kenya’s opposition supporters in Nairobi, on May 16, 2016. NASA protests were today broken up by teargas.

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  Police in Kenya fired tear gas on Friday at crowds of opposition supporters marching in three main cities ahead of a tense presidential election re-run.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for biweekly protests to pressure the government to overhaul the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the vote scheduled for October 26.

Leaders of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition say the election commission, in its present form, should be barred from managing the re-run vote after the Supreme Court annulled the original August poll, citing widespread “illegalities and irregularities”.

In the opposition stronghold Kisumu in western Kenya, thousands of protesters were dispersed with tear gas after they tried to storm the election body’s local offices.

Elsewhere in the city, a supermarket was looted and set on fire.

In the capital Nairobi, protests failed to gather momentum, but small numbers of supporters were tear gassed anyway.

“I will not allow anyone to cause chaos. If people are demonstrating peacefully, they are protected by the law, but the moment they turn chaotic we will deal with them,” Nairobi police commander Japheth Koome said.

Odinga has threatened to boycott the re-run if the election body is not overhauled and senior officials sacked, but so far his demands have been ignored.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party, which has a majority in parliament, has ruled out any major shake-up of the IEBC.

Instead, it wants to push through changes to the electoral law that critics say will simply legalise some of the faults cited by the Supreme Court.

 

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