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Kenya govt bans protests from city centres amid election stand-off

Internal Security Minister Fred Matiang‘i said protesters who violated the ban in Nairobi would be held personally liable for any damage.

An opposition supporter holds a placard during their protest on 11 October 2017. Picture: AFP.

NAIROBI - Kenya announced a ban on Thursday on demonstrations in the central business districts of key cities including Nairobi amid a deepening stand-off between the ruling party and the opposition over a presidential election re-run.

Internal Security Minister Fred Matiang‘i said protesters who violated the ban in Nairobi, the western city of Kisumu and the coastal city of Mombasa would be held personally liable for any damage.

The three cities are strongholds of opposition support and have seen repeated confrontations between riot police and opposition supporters in recent weeks.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga were due to go to the polls in a repeat presidential election on 26 October, after the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s win in Aug. 8 polls over procedural irregularities.

But this week Odinga announced he was withdrawing from the race, throwing the East African nation into political turmoil. Kenya is a regional and trade gateway and a key Western ally in a region roiled by conflict.

On Wednesday, the election board said the polls would be held anyway, and all eight of the original presidential candidates would be on the ballot. In August, only Odinga and Kenyatta polled more than one percent.

Odinga’s opposition alliance called for demonstrations demanding electoral reforms and new elections, raising fears of further clashes between his supporters and police.

A Kenya rights group said this week that at least 37 people were killed in protests immediately following the 8 August poll. Most were killed by police.

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