A protester runs away from tear gas during a protest by opposition supporters against the retention of the election officials they blame for last month’s botched elections, in Nairobi on October 2 2017. Picture: REUTERS
A protester runs away from tear gas during a protest by opposition supporters against the retention of the election officials they blame for last month’s botched elections, in Nairobi on October 2 2017. Picture: REUTERS

Nairobi — Kenyan opposition supporters began protests in the western city of Kisumu to press their demands for an overhaul of the electoral authority before a rerun of an annulled presidential election.

Police fired tear gas to disperse National Super Alliance protesters, while riot police were stationed outside the headquarters of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the capital, Nairobi, in anticipation of demonstrations.

The opposition coalition, led by Raila Odinga, is taking to the streets after quitting talks with the commission to discuss its demands for reform.

"The coalition is ready to turn up in the streets until its demands are met," the alliance said in a statement on its Twitter account on Monday.

Kenya plans to hold a rerun of the presidential vote on October 26, after the Supreme Court annulled the August 8 election citing "irregularities and illegalities" by the IEBC.

The opposition has demanded the commission change staff and use different electronic systems in the new vote, proposals that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has rejected.

Uncertainty about the new election is unnerving investors and clouding the outlook for an economy that’s already slowing.

Kenya is a regional hub for companies including Toyota Motor and is on the cusp of becoming an oil exporter, with Tullow Oil among firms that are developing the discovery of at least 1-billion barrels of crude resources.

Widening divisions within the commission about how the vote will be organized may force the postponement of the election, according to an official at the electoral body familiar with developments.

Some senior members of IEBC will refuse to take part in a new election as things stand, said the person, who asked not to be identified for reasons of personal safety.

Amendments to electoral laws that the Jubilee Party plans to pass in parliament would effectively place the commission under its control, the person said.

Bloomberg

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