Kenya: Opposition Protesters Endure Tear gas in a ‘long walk’ to Have Election body Dissolved

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reutersAbout 300 opposition protesters rallied on Monday to demand the scrapping of an election oversight body they say is biased and its replacement with a new one.

Police used teargas and water cannon to disperse two similar rallies in the past month. On Monday police backed by trucks with water cannon flanked the protesters gathered outside the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Kenya does not hold its next presidential and parliamentary polls until August 2017, but politicians are already trying to galvanise their supporters in a nation where violence erupted after the 2007 vote and the opposition disputed the 2013 result.

The opposition CORD coalition, led by Raila Odinga who lost the 2013 vote and unsuccessfully challenged the result in court, has accused the IEBC of bias and said its members should quit. IEBC officials have dismissed the charge and say they will stay.

“For free and fair election, IEBC must go,” read a banner held aloft by one demonstrator on Monday.

Last week, police fired teargas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters, some of whom threw stones. Police also used teargas to disperse a protest last month.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is expected to seek re-election next year for a second and final term, has urged opponents not to take to the streets.

Despite the 2013 legal challenge, that vote proceeded smoothly and Odinga accepted the court ruling in a nation where ethnic loyalties usually trump policy among voters.

After the disputed 2007 vote, about 1,200 were killed in ethnic fighting. Western diplomats have urged the authorities to work carefully with citizens to ensure peaceful elections in 2017.