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US urges Kenya rivals to reject violence

By AFP

Added 6th October 2017 07:51 PM

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for protests to force President Uhuru Kenyatta's government to overhaul the east African nation's electoral commission.

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Opposition supporters led by Nairobi county Women Representative, Esther Passaris (C) demonstrate along the streets of the Kenyan capital Nairobi on October 6, 2017 to demand a change of guard at Kenya's national election oversight body, the Independent Elections and Boundaries Comission (IEBC) that the opposition led by Raila Odinga have said cannot be expected to conduct a fair re-run of the presidential election as composed. AFP Photo / Tony Karumba

The United States warned Kenya's rival political camps to reject violence and respect electoral law on Friday, as protesters took to the streets.

Kenya is due to vote on October 26 in a re-run of an August presidential election that was marred by widespread irregularities, and tensions are mounting.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has called for protests to force President Uhuru Kenyatta's government to overhaul the east African nation's electoral commission.

The majority Jubilee Party has rejected this demand and, amid threats of boycotts, observers are worried about a possible outbreak of political violence.

"The United States Government is deeply concerned by the deterioration in the political environment in Kenya," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

"Unfortunately, in recent weeks actors on all sides have undermined the electoral commission and stoked tensions," she said.

 pposition supporters protest and call for the resignation of ndependent lectoral and oundaries ommission  officials over claims of bungling the ugust presidential vote which was nullified by the upreme ourt in ombasa enya on ctober 6 2017  hoto  ndrew asuku Opposition supporters protest and call for the resignation of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials over claims of bungling the August presidential vote, which was nullified by the Supreme Court, in Mombasa, Kenya, on October 6, 2017. AFP Photo / Andrew Kasuku

 
"While we support freedom of speech, baseless attacks and unreasonable demands on the electoral commission are divisive," she said, in a rebuke to Odinga's campaign. 

But she also warned against overreaction by the security forces.

"Kenyan leaders and citizens must reject violence and call on others to do the same," she said.

"Security services should use the utmost restraint in handling demonstrations, and any response must be proportionate and appropriate."

Meanwhile, police fired teargas to disperse protests Friday as opposition supporters took to the streets in three main Kenyan cities.

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