Kenya bans opposition protests as election crisis deepens

Kenya's opposition supporters protest over claims of bungling the August presidential vote, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2017
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Kenya bans opposition protests as election crisis deepens

NAIROBI: Kenya’s government on Thursday banned protests in main city centers, citing lawlessness during opposition rallies against the electoral commission ahead of a scheduled presidential poll re-run.
The move comes as opposition leader Raila Odinga called for daily protests next week to keep up pressure on election officials to reform, after his refusal to take part in the Oct. 26 vote plunged the country into uncertainty.
“Due to the clear, present and imminent danger of breach of peace, the government notifies the public that, for the time being, we will not allow demonstrations within the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu,” said Security Minister Fred Matiangi.
“The inspector general of police has been advised accordingly.”
The protests have seen hundreds of opposition supporters march through the streets, sometimes burning tires and clashing with police who have used tear gas to disperse crowds.
Though relatively small, the protests have caused outsized disruption, forcing shops to close up and deterring some from visiting city centers on demonstration days.
There have also been incidents of pickpocketing and muggings on the edges of the protests.
Matiangi said the protests had resulted in “attacks on police stations, attacks on police officers occasioning grievous bodily harm, serious disruption of normal business, assault on innocent civilians, destruction and looting of property,” and threatened legal action.
“It is the responsibility of the organizer that all participants remain peaceful. The organizers shall be held personally liable for any breach of law during the demonstrations,” he said.
Odinga said this week that he was withdrawing from the scheduled re-run, against President Uhuru Kenyatta whose victory in the original August poll was annulled last month by the Supreme Court citing widespread irregularities.
Odinga said that without fundamental reforms to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the vote would not be free and fair.
“All indications are that the election scheduled for Oct. 26 will be worse than the previous one,” he said, announcing his withdrawal Tuesday.
The IEBC has dismissed most of Odinga’s demands and on Wednesday said that he had not filled in the appropriate form withdrawing from the re-run and therefore was still a candidate alongside Kenyatta.
The commission also agreed to add six candidates who contested the original poll after the High Court ruled they should not be excluded.
In the most recent protests, on Wednesday, several people were injured in the western city of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, where protesters clashed with police.
The banning of demonstrations sets the stage for more violence if NASA leaders push ahead with their threat to protest, with the next one promised on Friday.
Violence in the days following August’s vote left at least 37 dead, according to a rights group, with almost all of the victims killed by police, according to a local human rights group.


Trump aide’s ‘Russia ties’ alleged in secret US documents

Updated 31 min 23 sec ago
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Trump aide’s ‘Russia ties’ alleged in secret US documents

  • The FBI believed that a former Trump campaign adviser had ties to Russia
  • Trump defied his own FBI director and the Justice Department to declassify a Republican document

WASHINGTON: The FBI believed that a former Trump campaign adviser had ties to Russia as it sought to influence the 2016 US presidential election, top secret documents released to US news organizations revealed on Saturday.
The October, 2016 application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court named Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to the campaign of Donald Trump, according to the documents which The New York Times published.
The newspaper, along with USA Today and others, filed Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to obtain the material, which the Justice Department released but with many details redacted.
“The FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” the initial FBI application says before it is blacked out and continues: “undermine and influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election in violation of US criminal law.”
Release of the documents comes just over one week after Special Counsel Robert Mueller, probing possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers, accusing them of hacking Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton’s campaign to steal documents, which were then publicly released.
The surveillance of Page became in February the subject of intense rivalry between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
The former, from Trump’s party, released a memo claiming that Democratic-funded research prompted the FBI to spy on Page.
Trump defied his own FBI director and the Justice Department to declassify the four-page Republican document, which was based on the much larger secret court application record which has now been released.
The White House initially blocked release of a counter-memo from the Democrats, which argued the surveillance warrant request “was based on compelling evidence and probable cause.”
In the documents released Saturday, the FBI cited a source which, it said, had a history of providing reliable information regardless of the source’s reasons for conducting research into Trump’s ties to Russia.
Trump is not named in the document but identified only as “Candidate #1.”
A judge approved the initial wiretapping application, which was renewed three times by other judges, The New York Times said.
The FBI, in its initial application the month before Trump won the election, said it “believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s campaign.”
It added that “Page has established relationships with Russian Government officials, including Russian intelligence officers.”
Page has not been charged. On Twitter Saturday he said the documents reflect “shocking” civil rights abuses and “complete ignorance” regarding Russia.