Nairobi – Police in Kenya said on Friday they shot and killed two opposition protesters who allegedly stormed a police station with farm tools and rocks in the western part of the country, while police used tear gas on rallies in the capital and elsewhere demanding reforms ahead of the new election.
Three other protesters had gunshot wounds in Siaya County, Bondo police chief Paul Kiarie said.
The demonstrations defied a new government ban on opposition protests in the central business districts of Kenya’s three largest cities, while concerns rose again about election-related violence in East Africa’s largest economy.
In the capital, Nairobi, police fired tear gas as opposition supporters tried to march to the central business district.
In Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city, local television showed running battles with stone-throwing youth.
Police also used tear gas in Mombasa, Kenya’s second-largest city, said opposition legislator Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir.
The government on Thursday banned opposition protests in the cities’ central business districts because of “imminent danger of breach of peace,” Interior Minister Fred Matiangi said, claiming that opposition supporters had looted businesses and attacked police stations.
Human rights groups protested the ban, with some pointing out that police have killed at least 37 people in protests since the results of the August election were announced. The Supreme Court annulled that vote, citing irregularities, and called for a new one. It is set for October 26.
“This ban, announced just two weeks ahead of a fraught repeat presidential election, is likely to become a basis for heavy-handed police crackdowns,” said Michelle Kagari, a deputy regional director with Amnesty International.
Opposition coalition Chief Executive Officer Norman Magaya said police have allowed government supporters into the banned protest areas and that they were attacking opposition supporters.
Opposition leaders have called for daily demonstrations ahead of the fresh elections. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose legal challenge led the court to nullify President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election, this week said he has withdrawn from the race because no reforms to electoral commission have been made.
The commission has said the new election will go ahead with all eight candidates who ran in August and that Odinga is still considered a candidate as he has not formally withdrawn. No candidate aside from Odinga and Kenyatta received even 1% of the vote.
Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has been pursuing changes to the electoral law that the opposition says will make it more difficult for the Supreme Court to nullify a presidential election and will reduce safeguards against electoral fraud. Parliament approved the amendments, and on Friday the president’s communication office said he had received them and had 14 days to sign them into law.
Opposition legislator James Orengo said on Friday the law will lower safeguards against vote-rigging by making the preferred system of transmitting election results a manual one. Kenya adopted an electronic system following the flawed 2007 election which sparked ethnic violence that left more than 1 000 people dead.