Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Kenyan opposition supporters still defy ban to continue protests

Kenyan opposition supporters still defy ban to continue protests

In western Kisumu, a stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga that has been a hotspot for demonstrations, protesters blocked key roads and set piles of tyres on fire.

The demonstrations defied a new government ban on opposition protests in the central business districts of Kenya's three largest cities, while concerns rose again about election-related violence in East Africa's largest economy.

The government has mobilized security forces in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi to keep in check opposition supporters despite the ban on such demonstrations.

Sources told Xinhua that opposition supporters in informal settlements in Nairobi were grouping before they could march into the city.

The protests went off despite the government resolving on Thursday to bar protesters from accessing the central business districts of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

He supported protesters' right to demonstrate, he said, but has so far stopped short of calling people onto the streets himself. 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. It is set for October 26. The ruling opening the way to a repeat vote on October 26. However, the crowd later dispersed peacefully after speeches from opposition leaders, helped along by the first heavy rainfall of the season.

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But in an interview in London, Odinga told the AP he's willing to return if that changes. "We must respect the law", he said.

Mr Kenyatta soon after announced the election would go ahead, telling supporters that "there is nowhere the constitution says Raila Amollo Odinga has to be on the ballot", and the election commission said on Twitter that it would meet with its legal team and "communicate way forward".

In 2013, Kenyatta defeated Odinga in a hotly contested election.

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.

In a statement issued by Minister for Africa Rory Stewart on Friday, the United Kingdom government pointed out that the rushed amendments would bring unnecessary tension in the country.

The National Assembly and the Senate have already passed the Electoral Bills and all eyes are now on President Uhuru to assent to them into Law. That judgement stated that if a candidate dies or withdraws from the fresh election, the IEBC must begin presidential nominations from scratch. However the country still has grim memories of the perils of post-election violence, with a disputed 2007 poll sparking politically-motivated tribal clashes that left some 1,100 dead.

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