Kenya’s high court yesterday temporarily lifted a government curb on protests in three main cities until a full hearing can be held on an opposition petition to scrap the ban entirely.
Kenyan Minister of Internal Security Fred Matiang’i announced the ban on Thursday, but opposition supporters have defied the order, notably in the western stronghold of Kisumu where three people have been shot dead by police.
The high court ordered the ban suspended “pending the hearing and determination” of a petition by the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition arguing it contravened their constitutional right to protest.
Matiang’i accused opposition supporters, who had been waging a protest campaign to demand election reforms ahead of an Oct. 26 vote, of lawlessness and destroying property.
He also threatened to prosecute NASA chief executive Norman Magaya for any damage.
The high court also ruled that until the petition is heard, any orders to arrest Magaya should be stayed.
On Friday, two protesters were shot dead by police in Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s rural home of Bondo, in the west of the country.
On Monday, an 18-year-old, whose mother insisted was not taking part in the protests, was shot dead in Kisumu.
The deaths led the opposition to suspend yesterday’s planned protests to allow NASA to “attend to the supporters who were brutalized and hurt and families that lost loved ones.”
Despite the confusion over what Odinga’s withdrawal means, election officials appear to be pushing forward with plans to hold the vote in nine days.
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