Kenya: 1 dead in anti-electoral commission protests


Chaos erupted in major towns across the East African country of Kenya on Monday during protests organized by the opposition, focused on unseating Kenya's electoral body officials after poll rigging allegations.

In the Kenyan capital Nairobi, baton-wielding police engaged crowds of protesters in running battles as many who had gone to Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC) were teargassed and chased away.

Outside Nairobi, one person died during a similar protest that rocked opposition stronghold Siaya County in western Kenya.

In a statement, Red Cross officials tending to the injured at the scene confirmed that the 41-year old man died of shock. They said onlookers reported that he fell down after a teargas canister exploded beside him.

In the Mathare slums of Nairobi, where more than 200 people were killed during election violence in 2007-08, protesters pounded on vehicles and hurled rocks at unsuspecting passengers.

A doctors Without Borders (MSF) doctor told Anadolu Agency that at least five people hit by rocks had been admitted to hospitals with serious injuries.

Kenyans are set to go to the polls to vote for a new president on Oct. 26 after the country's top court annulled the Aug. 8 general election, citing poll irregularities and illegalities.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga -- who filed the petition leading to the annulment -- has vowed not to take part in the elections if the 12 officials from the commission who allegedly aided the ruling party in poll rigging are not dismissed.

Raila has called on his supporters nationwide to come out in large numbers every Monday and Friday until the officials step down.

This comes as foreign envoys to Kenya on Monday led by U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec urged Kenya's ruling party not to change election laws while the country is mired in tension.

Last week, lawmakers of President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee party tabled a petition in parliament to strip the Supreme Court of powers to annul a presidential election.

"The timing of the laws is a serious problem that requires careful reflection. Avoid changes to electoral rules prior to the elections," Kenya's Star Newspaper quoted Godec as saying.

The Supreme Court had annulled the presidential election result that saw Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner on Sept. 1.

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