Kenya Votes Marred by Threats, Police Violence, Monitor Says

Updated on
  • Dozens of people killed in violence during elections: monitor
  • President re-elected in October in poll opposition boycotted

Kenya’s 2017 elections were marred by the police using disproportionate force and the intimidation of independent institutions by both sides, a European Union observer mission said.

The August to October election period and following months saw unrest in which police used live ammunition and dozens of people died, while “criminal elements and gangs also contributed to the violence,” Marietje Schaake, chief observer of the EU mission, said Wednesday in a briefing broadcast from Brussels.

Opposition supporters also attempted to disrupt October’s vote rerun, assaulting and intimidating polling staff, while the judiciary was put under pressure by the government, she said. Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka denied police used disproportionate force and said an independent oversight body that examines such claims would have raised the issue if it was valid.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in October capped three months of political uncertainty in East Africa’s biggest economy that included an initial, overturned vote and Supreme Court interventions. Main opposition leader Raila Odinga, who said the first vote was rigged, refused to take part in the rerun and Kenyatta now must reunite the country that’s the world’s largest shipper of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google-owner Alphabet Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.

While the EU mission intended to travel to Kenya to present its findings, “we have understood however that the Kenyan government is not prepared to receive us,” Schaake said, without giving details.

Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium and the EU, Johnson Weru, said in a statement that the government “regrets the unprocedural and premature manner” of the report’s release. He described the suggestion Kenya wasn’t ready to receive the mission as a “dishonest allegation” and said authorities had been in consultations on the schedule.

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