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Deep divisions over plan to change Kenya’s election law


A protestor is arrested by anti-riot police September 26, 2017 in Nairobi, during a demonstration to demand the removal of officials from national election oversight body, Interim Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) allegedly implicated in manipulation of the votes tally during the August 8, presidential elections. The election was annuled by the Supreme court due to massive irregularity. / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA

Kenya’s opposition on Thursday criticised a government move to amend the electoral law as it walked out of a meeting aimed at settling differences over the presidential re-run due next month.

Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled last month’s presidential election, won by Uhuru Kenyatta, citing irregularities and mismanagement by the electoral commission.

James Orengo, a senior official in the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), described the proposed amendments as an effort by the ruling Jubilee Party to change “the rules of the game” ahead of the re-run.


“They have reached a level where they feel that they can do anything, and change anything, including the constitution through the backdoor,” Orengo said.

Orengo said the amendments — being debated during a special sitting of the Jubilee-dominated parliament on Thursday — would render legal some of the “irregularities and illegalities” cited by the Supreme Court in its ruling.

Jubilee officials insist the changes are simply an effort to resolved “ambiguity” in the electoral law.

Church groups also criticised the proposed amendments.

“This is an unacceptable path since it will lead to mutilation of the constitution and weakening of institutions,” said Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit, head of the Anglican church in Kenya.

NASA walked out of Thursday’s meeting with Jubilee and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in protest at the proposed changes and warned that the government “will take responsibilities for what happens thereafter.”

After the collapse of talks, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati questioned the necessity of changing the law.

“We don’t need any other law to move forward with elections,” he said.

With tensions growing, opposition leaders have called their supporters to protest outside IEBC headquarters in central Nairobi every Monday and Friday.

Monday’s demonstrations ended when police used tear gas to disperse a few hundred protesters.

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IEBCKenyaUhuru Kenyatta
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