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Police fire tear gas to disperse election protesters in Kenya

Police in Kenya have used tear gas to disperse protesters angry at a Supreme Court ruling which invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election in August 8 votes.

A commotion erupted after police fired teargas at a gathering of protesters outside the court building in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Further rounds of teargas was used to disperse the protesters who tried to regroup and continue with their demonstration against the September 1 ruling which nullified the results of the presidential election over irregularities in tallying poll results and ordered a repeat of the vote within two months.

“I have attended this protest to air my grievances after the Supreme Court annulled my candidate’s victory,” said one protester wearing the bright red of Kenyatta’s Jubilee party.

Supporters of Jubilee Alliance, led by President Uhuru Kenyatta, gather during a demonstration on September 19, 2017 outside the Supreme Court of Kenya in Nairobi. (AFP photo)

The scuffle comes as senior judiciary officials keep lamenting about the surge in threats against their staff after the majority judgment.

David Maraga, who serves as the chief justice and president of the Supreme Court, said the Tuesday demonstration was a sign of rising threats against the judiciary.

“Since the Supreme Court delivered judgment … these threats have become more aggressive,” Maraga said in a briefing with reporters outside the court, adding that individual judges and their staff have become subject to numerous threats on the social media.

The official said the threats would not affect the way Kenya’s judiciary is handling the election case, saying he and other colleagues were ready to pay the “ultimate price” to protect the constitution and rule of law.

“Senior political leaders have also threatened the judiciary, promising ‘to cut it down to size’ and ‘teach us a lesson’,” Maraga said, accusing the inspector general of police of “repeatedly ignoring calls to act, exposing judicial officers, property and litigants to danger”.

Police have denied they had turned a blind eye on threats against the judges and other staff, saying judges had been provided with bodyguards and protection for their homes and the courts.

“The truth is borne out of facts and they are plain for any citizen to check and confirm,” George Kinoti, the national police spokesman, said in a statement.

Kenyatta’s rival in the election, the opposition leader Raila Odinga, has said that he would boycott a repeat vote scheduled for October 17 unless the government responds to his demands, including the sacking of some staff at the electoral commission.

Kenya’s Supreme Court is to read a detailed ruling on the disputed presidential election on Wednesday.

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