Kenyan police on Tuesday used tear gas to disperse opposition protesters outside the headquarters of the election commission a month before a scheduled re-run of the annulled presidential poll.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga is insisting on widespread reforms of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the new presidential election scheduled for October 26.
On Tuesday about 300 Odinga supporters gathered outside the commission’s main offices waving placards and chanting “Chiloba out!”, a reference to IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba whom Odinga wants sacked and prosecuted.
After they were confronted by a smaller crowd of pro-government demonstrators, police used tear gas to clear the street, kicking off hours of cat-and-mouse chases around the office complex.
Speaking blocks away from the melee, Odinga declared the start of a “peaceful campaign” against the IEBC and alleged an international “conspiracy” — involving the ruling Jubilee Party, Kenyan telecoms company Safaricom and French IT firm OT-Morpho — to keep him from power.
“The tragedy faced today, which we have to confront before it consumes us, is not that elections were stolen, but that IEBC, Jubilee and a number of local and international actors are determined to repeat that fraud,” he said.
Without providing evidence, Odinga alleged that results from polling stations were not remitted to the national tally centre, but instead sent to “a cloud server registered in Spain and controlled in France”.
As a result, Odinga claimed, “results… left the country but never found their way back”.
The Supreme Court annulled the August 8 presidential election which judges ruled was mismanaged by electoral officials to the extent that the results were “neither transparent nor verifiable”.
The annulment has heightened political tensions in Kenya, with President Uhuru Kenyatta describing the court decision as “a judicial coup” while Odinga has threatened to boycott the new election unless the IEBC is overhauled.
Kenya’s chief prosecutor on Saturday told the police and anti-corruption agency to investigate alleged “irregularities and illegalities” in the conduct of the presidential poll, ordering that investigations be completed within 21 days.