Kenya gov’t bans protests from city centers amid election standoff

Riot police chase opposition protesters in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday, October 2, 2017. (File photo by AP)
Updated 12 October 2017

Kenya gov’t bans protests from city centers amid election standoff

NAIROBI: Kenya announced a ban on Thursday on demonstrations in the central business districts of key cities including Nairobi amid a deepening stand-off between the ruling party and the opposition over a presidential election re-run.
Internal Security Minister Fred Matiang’i said protesters who violated the ban in Nairobi, the western city of Kisumu and the coastal city of Mombasa would be held personally liable for any damage.
The three cities are strongholds of opposition support, and have seen repeated confrontations between riot police and opposition supporters in recent weeks.
President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga were due to go to the polls in a repeat presidential election on Oct. 26, after the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s win in Aug. 8 polls over procedural irregularities.
But this week Odinga announced he was withdrawing from the race, throwing the East African nation into political turmoil. Kenya is a regional and trade gateway and a key Western ally in a region roiled by conflict.
On Wednesday, the election board said the polls would be held anyway, and all eight of the original presidential candidates would be on the ballot. In August, only Odinga and Kenyatta polled more than one percent.
Odinga’s opposition alliance called for demonstrations demanding electoral reforms and new elections, raising fears of further clashes between his supporters and police.
A Kenya rights group said this week that at least 37 people were killed in protests immediately following the Aug. 8 poll. Most were killed by police.


Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

Updated 30 min 46 sec ago

Sweden discontinues Assange rape investigation

  • The case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”

STOCKHOLM: Sweden on Tuesday dropped its investigation into an alleged rape by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently in prison in Britain.
Assange, who is battling extradition to the United States which accuses him of publishing secret documents related to his WikiLeaks work, has been facing potential charges in Sweden since 2010. The 48-year-old has denied all allegations against him.
Prosecutor Eve-Marie Persson said the case was being dropped because “the evidence has weakened considerably due to the long period of time that has elapsed since the events in question.”
She said the alleged victim, who accused Assange of raping her in 2010, “submitted a credible and reliable version of events.”
“Her statements have been coherent, extensive and detailed,” Persson said. 
The decision follows a ruling in June by a Swedish court that Assange should not be detained. Two months earlier, Assange was evicted from the Ecuador Embassy in London where he had been holed up since 2012. He was immediately arrested and is currently serving a 50-week sentence in Britain for jumping bail in 2012.
Kristinn Hrafnsson, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, said in a tweet that the focus should now move onto the “threat” that Assange has been “warning about for years: the belligerent prosecution of the United States and the threat it poses to the First Amendment.”
Assange has been battling potential charges in Sweden since August 2010, when an investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a visit to Stockholm. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest. That was granted two months later.
After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation.
While denying the sexual misconduct allegations in Sweden, he sought asylum for protection from possible extradition to the US on charges.
Ecuador withdrew Assange’s asylum status in April 2019. Assange was arrested by British police and sentenced in May to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012. He remains in prison after authorities ruled he was a flight risk and faces an extradition hearing next year to the US to face spying charges