Kenyan police shot and killed two opposition protesters who allegedly threw rocks at a police station, while police used tear gas on rallies in the capital and elsewhere demanding reforms ahead of the new presidential election this month.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Raila Odinga said he is willing to return to the race if the government is “ready to do business and deal” on reforms.
Three other protesters had gunshot wounds in the deadly confrontation in the Odinga stronghold of Siaya County in western Kenya, Bondo police chief Paul Kiarie said.
A crowd of about 2,000 people threw rocks at the police station and robbed shops, leading to the shooting, which is being investigated, national police spokesman George Kinoti said in a statement.
The demonstrations defied a new government ban on opposition protests in the central business districts of the nation’s three largest cities, while concerns rose again about election-related violence.
In Nairobi, police fired tear gas as opposition supporters tried to march to the central business district, while in Kisumu, local television showed running battles with stone-throwing youth.
Police also used tear gas in Mombasa, opposition Legislator Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir said.
The government on Thursday banned the protests, citing “imminent danger of breach of peace.”
Human rights groups protested, with some saying that police have killed at least 37 people in demonstrations since the results of the August election were announced.
The Kenyan Supreme Court annulled that vote, citing irregularities, and called for a new one. It is set for Oct. 26.
“This ban, announced just two weeks ahead of a fraught repeat presidential election, is likely to become a basis for heavy-handed police crackdowns,” Amnesty International deputy regional director Michelle Kagari said.
Police have allowed government supporters into the banned protest areas, opposition coalition chief executive officer Norman Magaya said, adding that they were attacking opposition supporters.
Opposition leaders have called for daily demonstrations.
Odinga, whose legal challenge led the court to nullify Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election, this week said he has left the race because no reforms to the electoral commission have been made.
However, in an interview in London, Odinga said he is willing to return if that changes.
If the government and electoral commission are “ready to do business and deal, we are ready to jump in the field,” he said.
The election commission has said that the new vote will go ahead with all eight candidates who ran in August and that Odinga is still considered a candidate as he has not formally withdrawn.
No candidate aside from Odinga and Kenyatta received even 1 percent of the vote.
Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has pursued changes to the electoral law that the opposition says will make it more difficult for the Supreme Court to nullify a presidential election and will reduce safeguards against electoral fraud.
On Friday, Kenyatta received the legislature-approved amendments. He has 14 days to sign them into law.
Opposition Legislator James Orengo said that the law will lower safeguards against vote-rigging by making the preferred system of transmitting election results a manual one.
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