Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. Picture: REUTERS
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga. Picture: REUTERS

Nairobi — Opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Tuesday that he was suspending a protest campaign after three people were shot dead in demonstrations against Kenya’s election body.

"In honour of the innocent victims of the state, our protests will stay suspended. On Friday, we will mark the memory of these victims as heroes of the struggle for electoral justice," he said in a statement.

The National Super Alliance coalition had earlier said the protests would resume on Wednesday after a one-day break to honour the victims, but Odinga said the party would communicate "its next course of action" on Friday.

Odinga launched a protest campaign three weeks ago against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), saying the body had failed to properly reform since the supreme court annulled an August 8 presidential election over irregularities in the counting process.

On Friday last week, two protesters were shot dead by police in Odinga’s rural home of Bondo, in the west of the country. Police commander Leonard Katana said the demonstrators were shot after attempting to "attack" the police station.

On Monday an 18-year-old man, whose mother insisted was not taking part in the protests, was shot dead in Kisumu. The protests, concentrated in Kisumu but with smaller crowds seen in Nairobi and coastal Mombasa, have seen opposition supporters setting tyres alight, lobbing stones at police and, in some cases, looting stores and destroying property.

Security minister Fred Matiang’i banned protests in main cities last Thursday, citing lawlessness from opposition supporters. However, the country’s high court suspended the ban.

Last week, Odinga announced he was withdrawing from the race, arguing the move would legally force the IEBC to begin the whole process from scratch, which would allow more time for deep reforms.

Despite the confusion over what Odinga’s withdrawal means, election officials appear to be pushing forward with plans to hold the vote as scheduled on October 26.


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