Kenya bans protests during vote challenge

March 29, 2013 at 12:26 PM
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NAIROBI, Kenya, March 29 (UPI) -- A ban on demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court building in Kenya is a security precaution, not a rights issue, a police official said Friday.

The Kenyan high court is expected to weigh in during the weekend on a challenge to the election results filed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He lost a March 4 contest to Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who cleared by 50 percent majority needed to win by less than 1 percentage point.

Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said he banned weekend demonstrations in front of the court building, The Daily Nation reports.

"This should not be construed as denial of right to association but a precaution to ensure criminal elements do not hijack such demonstrations to engage in lawlessness," he said.

Odinga's challenge to the outcome of the 2007 election sparked violence in Kenya that left more than 1,000 people dead. Kenyatta faces charges in July at the International Criminal Court for his role in the post-election violence.

March 4 elections were seen as legitimate and relatively free of violence. The police chief, however, said some leaders have been issuing statements that could be seen as an incitement to violence.

"We have noticed increased polarization of the country emanating from such statements and some are done through social media and those perpetuating this know themselves," he said.

Some recounts were ordered and Odinga's lawyers said there were "grave errors" uncovered at some polling stations.

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