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Fri, 06 Oct 2017 11:30 - Updated Fri, 06 Oct 2017 11:30

Kenya's opposition supporters protest against poll body ahead of repeat poll

NAIROBI - Supporters of Kenya's main opposition party, National Super Alliance (NASA) on Friday engaged in street protests to force changes at Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of repeat presidential polls slated for Oct. 26.

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NASA presidential candidate, Raila Odinga and his co-principals, had earlier this week appealed to their supporters countrywide to engage in peaceful protests against the electoral agency for bungling the Aug. 8 national polls.

The street protests on Friday were pronounced in the opposition strongholds of western and coastal Kenya and in Nairobi, where anti-riot police kept vigil in strategic locations.

Protesters had on Friday dawn blocked a road in Nairobi's populous Mathare slums where there was tension since Thursday night but were later repulsed by police.

Security has been beefed up in Nairobi with major roads and the precincts around IEBC headquarters in Nairobi heavily guarded.

Major roads leading to the lakeside city of Kisumu were blocked by protesters who later marched in the streets chanting anti-IEBC slogans.

In neighboring Siaya County, protesters led by local leaders marched peacefully to press for changes at the electoral body.

The situation was repeated in Kakamega town in western Kenya where protesters marched peacefully to demand overhaul of elections management in the country.

Opposition supporters also came out in large numbers in the coastal city of Mombasa to stage anti-IEBC protests albeit in a peaceful manner.

Street protests against the electoral agency have been taking place every Monday and Friday in opposition strongholds amid standoff with police.

One person reportedly collapsed on Monday in western Kenya town of Siaya, where police hurled tear gas canisters at protesters.

The protests were however peaceful in the coastal city of Mombasa and other opposition leaning counties in lower eastern and northeastern parts of Kenya.

The demonstrations against Kenya's electoral body that entered the second week on Friday have been condemned by the ruling Jubilee Coalition, clerics and private sector lobby.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto during a campaign tour of western Kenya on Thursday urged residents to shun street protests, terming them a drain on the economy and a threat to peaceful co-existence.

Opposition leaders have nevertheless insisted the twice a week protests will continue until their demand for radical changes in the electoral body are met.

The opposition demands include sacking and prosecution of officials accused of bungling the August 8 presidential election that was invalidated by Kenya's apex court on September 1.

Odinga and his lieutenants have insisted that an overhaul of the administrative structures in the electoral agency will be the only safeguard against malpractices during the repeat presidential polls.

He has also accused IEBC of failing to adequately address the concerns it has raised in its 'irreducible minimum' demands, protesting that the commission was proceeding with business as usual without any accountability or goodwill. Xinhua

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