Bloombergpolitics

Kenyan Opposition Protests Are Slowing Down Business, Government Says

  • Opposition to hold second of its bi-weekly protests on Friday
  • Business community says election uncertainty slowing economy

Kenya will deploy security forces to monitor protests planned by the main opposition alliance, the government’s spokesman said, as he criticized the demonstrations for slowing down business.

The opposition National Super Alliance plans to hold demonstrations in the capital, Nairobi, and other cities on Friday. The coalition began a campaign of twice-weekly protests on Monday to press its demands for an overhaul of the electoral commission before a rerun on Oct. 26 of the country’s annulled presidential elections.

“It seems that Nasa has deliberated to adopt a political approach that creates a lot of uncertainty in the business environment of our country,” government spokesman Eric Kiraithe told reporters Thursday in Nairobi. “To Kenyans, we are telling them to go to work, don’t go to demonstrations.”

Uncertainty about the new election is unnerving investors and clouding the outlook for an economy that’s already struggling to expand because of a prolonged drought. Kenya is a regional hub for companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and is on the cusp of becoming an oil exporter, with Tullow Oil Plc among firms that are developing at least 1 billion barrels of crude resources.

Companies in Kenya are receiving lower revenue because of the uncertainty, according to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the main industry lobby group. It expects the fresh election to result in increased factory shutdowns, rising corporate and personal debt, the cancellation of international conferences and a slowdown in tourism, the latter being a key source of foreign exchange for the East African nation.

‘Irregularities, Illegalities’

Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the country’s Aug. 8 presidential election after finding the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission committed “illegalities and irregularities.” That led the opposition, whose presidential candidate Raila Odinga lost the vote, to demand that the IEBC fire staff and change the electronic systems used in the ballot before the rerun takes place. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party has rejected any changes to the commission.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati on Thursday asked the court to clarify his role in verifying vote-tally forms, Nairobi-based Radio Citizen reported on its Twitter account, without saying how it got information.

One of the opposition’s complaints about the IEBC’s handling of the election was that the authority declared Kenyatta the winner without tallying all ballots on documents known as forms 34A and 34B. Two calls to Chebukati’s phone went unanswered and IEBC spokesman Andrew Limo declined to comment because he’s yet to see the court filing.

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