Opposition in Kenya drops protests

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Opposition leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday suspended protests intended to press for reforms to Kenya’s electoral commission ahead of the second attempt at a presidential election being held Oct. 26.

Odinga, whose legal challenge to the first presidential ballot in August led to the Supreme Court ordering a new vote, cited killings of his supporters by police for his decision to call off the daily protests he had urged for this week.

Separately, a court lifted a government ban on opposition demonstrations in the business districts of the countries three largest cities, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Human rights groups have accused police of being used by Kenya’s president to crush dissent. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch reported 67 opposition supporters have been killed in protests since the Aug. 11 announcement that President Uhuru Kenyatta had been re-elected in the first election.

According to the government’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Report of 2013, the Kenyan police force of today largely resembles “the Kenya Police Force of the colonial period (under British colonialists): narrow in outlook, unclear in mission and violent in tendency.”

“It is therefore not surprising that the use of excessive and fatal force by security agents, especially by the police, against citizens has been a recurring theme throughout Kenya’s post-independence,” the report said.

Odinga, whose allegations of vote-rigging led the country’s Supreme Court to nullify the first election, later withdrew his candidacy for the new vote. Odinga said he pulled because the electoral commission ignored his calls for reforms despite the Supreme Court finding serious irregularities and illegalities in the August vote.

He has said that without reforms the new election may be worse than the first one.