Tensions rise in Kenya ahead of polls

Supporters of Kenya's main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) demonstrate to call for the resignation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials over claims of bungling the August presidential vote, which was nullified by the Supreme Court, in Nairobi, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2017
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Tensions rise in Kenya ahead of polls

NAIROBI: Kenyan police fired teargas and shots in the air on Monday as hundreds of demonstrators marched through the capital Nairobi to protest against proposed legal changes that would make it harder for the Supreme Court to annul an election.
Reuters television footage showed a sport utility vehicle (SUV) plowing into some of the protesters, severely injuring three, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible and the police made no immediate comment on the incident.
Kenya is due on Oct. 26 to repeat a presidential election after the Supreme Court nullified an Aug. 8 vote due to procedural irregularities. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won the August election, will face opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Uncertainty over the coming election has created turmoil in the East African nation, which is a regional trade hub and staunch Western ally.
As the demonstrators marched toward the election board in Nairobi, a Reuters journalist saw men in plain clothes near security forces fire shots in the air. Police on horseback set up blockades to prevent protesters from accessing some roads.
Police also used teargas in the western city of Kisumu, Odinga’s stronghold, to disperse protesters, though another demonstration in the coastal city of Mombasa passed peacefully.
Odinga’s opposition alliance is threatening to boycott the October vote unless the electoral board changes some personnel — a stance he declined on Monday to clarify, in comments that suggested he was keeping his options open for now.
“This is a democratic society we live in. If I choose not to participate in the pre-rigged election process, it is my democratic right. No court can order me to do so,” Odinga said in comments broadcast on Kenyan TV stations, without elaborating further.
The protesters want to warn ruling party lawmakers not to pass an amendment to the election law that would limit the circumstances in which the Supreme Court could void an election on procedural grounds, Opposition lawmaker James Orengo said.
Justin Muturi, speaker of the National Assembly, said the amendment could be debated when Parliament reconvenes on Tuesday if lawmakers were keen to push it forward.
The government-backed Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said on Monday in a report that at least 37 people had been killed in a police crackdown on protests that immediately followed the August vote — the highest death toll given so far.
The report attributed some deaths to “police using live bullets and a few from police bludgeoning using clubs.” It named a six-month-old baby girl, a seven-year-old boy, and an eight-year-old girl as being among the victims.


Prosecutors seek Air France trial over 2009 Rio-to-Paris crash

Updated 11 min 55 sec ago
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Prosecutors seek Air France trial over 2009 Rio-to-Paris crash

  • The doomed Airbus A330 jet crashed into the sea on June 1, 2009, after entering an aerodynamic stall
  • French investigators found the crew of AF447 mishandled the loss of speed readings

PARIS: French prosecutors want Air France to face trial over a fatal crash in 2009 involving flight AF447 between Rio de Janeiro and Paris which killed all 228 people on board, a judicial source said on Wednesday.
The doomed Airbus A330 jet crashed into the sea on June 1, 2009, after entering an aerodynamic stall. The judicial source added that prosecutors would not be seeking a trial of Airbus over the affair.
French investigators found the crew of AF447 mishandled the loss of speed readings from sensors blocked with ice from the storm, and pushed it into a stall by holding the nose too high.