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Kenya: Gov’t Bans Protests after Violence Erupts over New Election Law

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Kenya's internal security minister said on Thursday organizers of demonstrations would be held personally liable for any damage caused, amid a deepening political stand-off between the ruling party and the opposition over a presidential election re-run.

Kenya violence

Demonstrations were also banned in the central business districts of the capital Nairobi, the western city of Kisumu and the coastal city of Mombasa, said the minister, Fred Matiang‘i.

Earlier, Kenyan police fired tear gas at opposition protesters a day after their leader Raila Odinga announced his withdrawal from the presidential race, saying he does not expect it to be free and fair.

His supporters are unhappy at a new election law and fear it could lead to a walkover victory for incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, in the rerun of the election later this month.

Election officials were locked in crisis meetings since Odinga's decision, as debate rages over what his move could mean for an election after President Uhuru Kenyatta's August 8 victory was annulled by the Supreme Court.

Protests were taking place almost daily since the decision in a country that still has grim memories of post-election violence when a disputed 2007 poll prompted politically motivated tribal clashes that left some 1,100 dead.

There is widespread anger, however, after parliament on Wednesday passed the new law, which says if one candidate withdraws, the other automatically wins the presidency.

The law was one of the several changes approved by parliament - dominated by Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee party - on Wednesday that Odinga says will make the "irregularities" cited by the Supreme Court legal.

Announcing his withdrawal on Tuesday, Odinga said: "All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one."

Kenyatta, for his part, insists that the election rerun must go ahead.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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