Kenya's opposition intensifies protests amid election tensions

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-11 22:49:30|Editor: Yurou
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NAIROBI, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Supporters of Kenya's main opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) on Wednesday thronged streets of Nairobi and towns in western Kenya to demand reforms and personnel changes at the polls body.

The street protests in Nairobi and opposition strongholds in western Kenya, despite being largely peaceful, added uncertainty to the East African country as it counts down to the repeat presidential polls slated for Oct. 26.

Uniformed police kept vigil as protesters marched along major streets in Nairobi waving placards and twigs demanding the sacking of officials accused of bungling the Aug. 8 polls.

The protesters mainly drawn from Nairobi's informal settlements had earlier been addressed by their leaders who renewed call for comprehensive reforms in the electoral process.

However, NASA leader Raila Odinga who on Tuesday announced his withdrawal from the repeat polls together with his co-principals did not turn up for the protests.

Odinga opted out of the repeat presidential polls, citing failure by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to meet opposition's demands for institutional reforms and personnel changes.

The opposition had demanded sacking of poll officials as well as overhaul of vote tallying and transmission infrastructure as a pre-condition to participate in the repeat polls.

Kenya's apex court on Sept. 1 nullified the Aug. 8 polls where the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner, citing massive irregularities in votes' transmission to the national tallying center.

Judges at the Supreme Court directed IEBC to conduct fresh presidential elections before expiry of a 60-day period.

The Chairman of IEBC shortly issued a gazette notice indicating that only Kenyatta and Odinga would participate in the Oct. 26 repeat presidential polls.

Odinga and his lieutenants doubted the capacity of IEBC to conduct free and credible polls and vowed to mobilize their supporters to engage in street protests until their demand for electoral reforms were met.

The street protests that have entered the third week have been staged in opposition strongholds every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Odinga's legal advisor and Senator from Siaya County in western Kenya, James Orengo, said Tuesday that the street protests will be intensified countrywide despite opposition leader's withdrawal from the presidential race.

"We are going to demonstrate in every corner of this country and expect the momentum to build up until we achieve our objectives of reforming the electoral process in this country," said Orengo.