Kenya: Police disperse protests against electoral commission

AP News
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Posted: May 09, 2016 12:58 PM
Kenya: Police disperse protests against electoral commission

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan police Monday tear-gassed Kenya's main opposition leaders and hundreds of their supporters who were demonstrating to demand the disbandment of the electoral authority because of alleged bias and corruption.

Kenya is to hold general elections in 15 months and the main opposition leaders have threatened to boycott it if the electoral authority is not reformed.

Police protectively surrounded the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, in the capital Nairobi, with water cannons and baton-wielding officers in anticipation of the demonstration organized by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy.

Police would allow peaceful demonstrations but would not tolerate any breach of peace, warned Nairobi's police chief Japeth Koome.

Kenya's main opposition leaders former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Senator Moses Wetangula arrived amid cheers from supporters and staged a sit-in on the highway outside the electoral commission offices. Some demonstrators pelted police with stones and police dispersed the demonstrators using tear gas.

Police had dispersed the leaders and their supporters two weeks ago when they held a similar protest vowing to eject the commissioners of the electoral commission from their offices. The opposition argues that they have had to resort to street protests after the government rejected their proposal to hold discussions about the electoral commission.

Eleven diplomats representing western countries in Kenya, including the U.S., last week urged Kenyan leaders to hold discussions about the electoral commission.

Opposition leaders, protestant churches and the Central Organization of Trade Unions have called for the disbandment of the electoral and boundaries commission, charging that it is biased and corrupt.