Kenya Opposition Plans Mass Protests to Force Out Vote Officials

  • Opposition wants electoral commission changes before new vote
  • Supreme Court found commission botched last month’s election

National Super Alliance supporters outside the Supreme court in Nairobi on Sept. 20.

Photographer: Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya’s main opposition alliance will begin mass protests this week to force out electoral officials it suspects of rigging last month’s annulled presidential vote.

The National Super Alliance will begin its campaign on Tuesday and will continue until the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission officeholders resign, said Norman Magaya, chief executive officer of the opposition coalition. It may escalate the protests if lawmakers from the ruling Jubilee Party continue with plans to amend the country’s electoral laws, he said.

“Demonstration is the only language these people understand and for us it’s not going to be a one-day event,” Magaya said by phone from Nairobi, the capital. “Tuesday is just the launch of the mass movement and we will spread these demonstrations countrywide.”

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has demanded the commission be overhauled after the Supreme Court found the body failed to conduct last month’s botched vote in line with the constitution. A new election scheduled for Oct. 26 is clouding the outlook for East Africa’s biggest economy, where growth is already slowing, and risks tainting its reputation as one of the continent’s top investment destinations. Kenya is the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including General Electric Co. and Coca-Cola Co.

Kenya’s public prosecutor began an investigation into the IEBC at the weekend to establish whether officials at the authority committed any crimes and is expected to complete the probe within three weeks. The investigation will focus on the “irregularities and illegalities” found by the Supreme Court to have been committed by the IEBC, it said Sept. 23.

The Supreme Court’s nullification of the presidential vote, a first in Africa, cited a litany of failures by the IEBC, including that the body declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the victor without the proper documents. It found no evidence of any wrongdoing by specific individuals within the commission.

Kenyatta has called the decision a “judicial coup” and the Star newspaper reported on Sept. 23 that his Jubilee Party will propose changes to the law to curb the court’s power in electoral disputes.

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