Several hurt in protests as Kenya election officials mull next move


The proposed changes to the electoral laws by the ruling party Jubilee has created a political rift among Kenyans ahead of the repeat polls.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya confirmed Friday that he had received the controversial election amendment bill from Parliament, saying he will consider before signing it into law.

But opposition leader Raila Odinga has refused to take part, saying the re-run should not happen until wide-ranging reforms are brought in to prevent another failed vote. But longtime rival Odinga says his withdrawal legally forces election officials to begin the entire process from scratch - a move that leaves more time for his reform demands to be met.

However the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition vowed to push on with a planned protest Friday, and stage rallies every day next week. In Kisumu city, local television showed running battles with stone-throwing youth.

Hospital authorities said 20 people were injured in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold. Three of them are gunshot injuries. "The rest are small injuries like bruises and teargas that damaged their eyes".

The election laws changes were ordered by the Supreme Court, which identified a lacuna it said needed to be filled, when it annulled the August 8 elections citing irregularities. However, the crowd later dispersed peacefully after speeches from opposition leaders, helped along by the first heavy rainfall of the season.

"What we are demanding is that the electoral commission should respect the Supreme Court and carry out elections in accordance with the ruling, ". "All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one", he said, announcing his withdrawal Tuesday.

Kenyatta and Odinga were due to return to the polls because the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta's win in an August 8 election, citing procedural irregularities.

Opposition legislator James Orengo said the law will lower safeguards against vote-rigging by making the preferred system of transmitting election results a manual one. "It is important for all Kenyans that elections take place in line with the Supreme Court decision of September 1st". Since then a series of demonstrations have seen police teargas protesters, who in some cases have grown violent, with no deaths recorded.

Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Friday that his withdrawal from a presidential election rerun scheduled for October 26 meant the poll had been "canceled" and there should be fresh nominations for a new vote.

Many observers agreed the 2007 election was deeply flawed, and it triggered politically motivated tribal violence that left more than 1,100 dead.