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Kenya seeks to shut down two rights bodies in wake of election

KHRC banner promoting peace before the elections. The NGO faces a ban now.

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |  The Kenyan government has moved to shut down two rights organisations, one of which said Tuesday that it was contemplating court action over last week’s disputed presidential election.

Kenyan Human Rights Commission (KHRC) board member Maina Kiai said it was “no secret” the organisation had been mulling whether to lodge a complaint at the Supreme Court over “inconsistencies” in the election process.

On Monday night the interior ministry’s NGO Board said it was withdrawing the KHRC’S registration over alleged irregularities including unpaid taxes, a lack of work permits for foreign staff, and illegal bank accounts.

Then on Tuesday morning, the NGO Board asked police to shut down the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and arrest its members, claiming that it was not properly registered as an NGO and was instead illegally operating as a “charitable organisation”.

AfriCOG had filed several court petitions challenging the electoral commission ahead of the election.

According to Kenya’s electoral laws, complaints about the election must be submitted to the Supreme Court by Friday.

The National Super Alliance (NASA), an opposition group led by Raila Odinga, has said it will not do so, and is expected to announce its next move Wednesday.

But civil society organisations can also file legal petitions challenging the results or conduct of the vote.

“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. 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, nonviolent 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.

It said the electoral commission has yet to provide them with all the scanned forms backing up the electronic results.

The KHRC has also complained that the electoral commission streamed provisional results before backing them up with the scanned forms.

The disputed election sparked protests that at times turned violent over the weekend, leaving at least 16 people dead and 177 injured.


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