KISUMU, KENYA — Protesters in the Kenyan city of Kisumu defied a local government ban on rallies Monday to demand reforms in the country’s electoral commission. This is the fourth Monday in a row demonstrators have marched on the commission’s offices.
The morning was relatively peaceful when protesters marched to the offices of the electoral commission offices in Kisumu’s city center. But in the afternoon, police used teargas and water cannons to disperse the crowd. One person was killed.
John Omondi, a local businessman, was among those rallying in support of opposition leader Raila Amolo Odinga.
“We are in the street because we want change in Kenya, because Raila Amolo Odinga has fought for change for so long and we have not managed or [have been] able to get that change. We will still push on for the demonstration so that we get that change,” Omondi said.
Kisumu is Odinga’s hometown and he enjoys strong support in the city.
Odinga, who ran against incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta in an August election, challenged Kenyatta’s win in the poll. The Supreme Court overturned the results, saying they were neither transparent or verifiable.
The court ordered the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, or IEBC, to conduct a re-run election within 60 days of its September 1 ruling.
Since then, Odinga has demanded the commission fire members who were allegedly involved in the August electoral irregularities. The commission has said it has no time to make personnel changes.
Last week Odinga withdrew from the October 26 re-run election blaming the commission and the ruling Jubilee party of planning to rig the vote.
Protester Omondi said Odinga has not gone away from the country’s political scene.
“The fact that Raila Odinga withdrew from the presidential race doesn’t mean that he withdrew it completely because he is still waiting for reforms at the IEBC and when any change takes place at the IEBC he still will be in the race,” Omondi said.
However, the opposition has vowed to continue with its weekly protests at the commission offices.
Protester Joseph Otieno says more pressure must be put on the electoral commission.
“This demonstration is not that big as we wanted it. We want one that will take place every day and night. This is a joke and the only way we can get change is pushing for daily demonstrations.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have accused Kenya’s police of killing 33 people while breaking up post-election protests.
In a report titled “Kenya: Kill those criminals: Security forces violations in Kenya’s August 2017 elections,” Amnesty documents what it calls the use of excessive force by authorities in quelling protests in opposition areas.
Police have previously denied killing protesters. The Interior Ministry did acknowledge nine people have died since August and three more on Friday in Bondo, in the west of the country.