Raila skips IEBC demos as Nairobi supporters brave teargas

Riot policemen arrest a student of University of Nairobi after the protests against the detention of an opposition legislator in Nairobi, September 28, 2017. /REUTERS

NASA chiefs skipped demonstrations on Monday as part of their push for IEBC boss Ezra Chiloba to resign and for election laws not to be amended.

The four leaders are presidential candidate Raila Odinga (ODM), his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Congress) and Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula (Ford Kenya).

They have previously been in the forefront of protests but this time round, Raila said they did not need to be there as they have enough supporters to petition on their behalf.

Raila announced last week that they were “taking the battle to Kenyans” and that this would include nationwide demonstrations every Monday and Friday.

This is part of demands the Opposition says must be met so Raila can face President Uhuru Kenyatta once again in the fresh October 26 race for the top seat.

The coalition has accused Chiloba and several others of bungling the general election on August 8.

Policemen attempt to disperse opposition supporters who are calling for officials they blame for last month’s botched presidential elections to be sacked, in Nairobi, October 2, 2017. /REUTERS

But other Opposition leaders took part in demonstrations in their areas. They included woman representatives Esther Passaris and Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay). They assembled at Uhuru Park and marched through the CBD to IEBC’s Anniversary Towers.

The crowd waved banners and chanted ‘Chiloba must go’ before riot officers arrived and overwhelmed them.

Police fired rounds of teargas over the course of several hours at small groups of protesters in at least three locations in downtown Nairobi.

Kenyans are generally fearful of protests as at least 28 people were killed in unrest following last month’s vote.

The country is a key Western ally in a region often roiled by violence. It is also the richest country per capita in East Africa and a regional gateway for trade and transport.

After a meeting with the election board, British and US diplomats condemned “inflammatory rhetoric” by politicians and said it undermined the election board’s ability to carry out its job of holding the new election.

In the first signal that Western governments might take concrete action against Kenyan politicans engaging in hate speech, a British diplomat told reporters: “Anyone who is found to be inciting or engaging in violence must be held accountable…the UK reserves right to take appropriate action which may include refusing or revoking visas.”

Since the Supreme Court voided last month’s presidential results, politicians from the ruling party and the Opposition have made fiery, at times crude, speeches – stoking fears that violence could take on an ethnic dimension, as in 2007, when 1,200 people were killed after a disputed election.

Also on Monday, Uhuru said Opposition supporters should accept the Supreme Court’s timeline for when the new poll must be held.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it,” he said. “If you celebrated the court’s decision to repeat the election you must also respect the court’s decision to have (the election board) preside over the repeat election within 60 days,” the president said at an event in Nairobi.

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