NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan police fired tear gas on Monday to break up demonstrations urging electoral reforms ahead of general elections next year.
Associated Press journalists saw police beating some protesters who had gathered outside the offices of Kenya's electoral commission in the capital Nairobi. Police then chased them through downtown streets and alleyways. Some protesters had hidden in nearby buildings but riot police flushed them out toward waiting colleagues who beat them with wooden clubs and kicked them as they tried to flee.
The protests are led by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who lost the most recent election in 2013 to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Paul Wanjama, police chief for Nairobi central police station, said officers detained at least 15 demonstrators who will be charged Tuesday. He did not say what charges they face.
Odinga said polls in 2017 cannot be free and fair if the current election commission remains in place and called for the commissioners to be removed from office.
"We have said now and again and we repeat here: (Electoral Board) commissioners must get out of office, they cannot be trusted to conduct a credible election," said lawmaker James Orengo, one of the protest leaders, to a crowd of about 500 protesters.
Odinga was about to address the crowd when the police intervened, forcing the gathering to disperse.