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Kenya electoral commissioners resign after deadly protests

October 05, 2016 - 10:31 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya - All members of Kenya's electoral commission have resigned ahead of next year's presidential election, after waves of opposition protests called for them to go, a senior government official said Wednesday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has received the resignation letters of the 10 commissioners, including the chairman, said Joseph Kinyua, the president's chief of staff.

At least five people died when police opened fire at opposition supporters who held a series of demonstrations in May and July to demand the commissioners' resignation, accusing them of bias and corruption.

Under pressure from opposition and civil society, the government offered the commissioners a hefty settlement to leave office. Rights groups have questioned why the government had to pay commissioners accused of having links to corruption.

Opposition leaders, Protestant churches and the Central Organization of Trade Unions also have called for the disbanding of the electoral commission, saying it is biased.

Some of the outgoing commission members had been named in a case in which two executives of British printing firm Smith and Ouzman Ltd. were convicted in Britain for making payments to individuals in various countries, including Kenya, to win business.

Fears remain that next year's election will see a repeat of the violence that has plagued the country's presidential elections over the last three decades. In 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed and 600,000 forced to flee their homes.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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