NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenyan police used teargas on Friday to disperse protesters in the country’s three main cities, Reuters witnesses said, as a standoff between the government and opposition leaders over a planned repeat presidential election continued.
On Thursday, the government banned demonstrations in the central business districts of the capital Nairobi, the coastal city of Mombasa and the western city of Kisumu. The interior minister said demonstrators had damaged and looted property.
A repeat presidential election pitting is scheduled for Oct. 26 after the Supreme Court nullified the result of an August poll in which incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta beat veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, citing irregularities.
But Odinga withdrew from the race this week, saying the election board had failed to institute reforms to ensure a free and fair election. His opposition alliance called for demonstrations demanding a new election with a new election board instead.
The election board has said the polls will go ahead anyway, pitting Kenyatta against six other candidates, none of whom polled more than 1 percent in the August election.
In Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga support, protesters reacted angrily when police turned water cannon on them to prevent them from entering the city centre.
“Our demonstrations have a (valid) basis and are peaceful,” said Odinga supporter Hezron Tirus Aloyo. “We condemn the directive … on the limitation of our rights to demonstrate.”
Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Catherine Evans