Some supporters of the National Super Alliance (Nasa) on Monday heeded their leaders’ call to stage street demos to push for reforms at the electoral commission.
The opposition wants systems and personnel changes implemented at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of repeat presidential election slated for October 26.
They include removal of more than 10 senior officials accused of bungling August 8 General Election, a proposal the ruling Jubilee Party has opposed.
In Kisumu, the demos kicked off on an ugly note as police clashed with protesters in Kondele, one of the slums in the lake-side city.
Trouble started after the slum dwellers lit bonfires and blocked roads leading to Kisumu town.
Anti-riot police lobbed tear gas and engaged the demonstrators in running battles as they battled to restore order.
The demonstrators, led by Kisumu Central MP Fred Ouda, were planning to march to IEBC offices in the Central Business District.
They were still assembling but the blocking of the roads with bonfires drew the attention and wrath of police who came and broke up their meeting.
Mr Ouda condemned police action, saying the officers were infringing on the rights of Kenyans to protest.
“We can’t be picketing peacefully and we are being tear-gassed. We only want to match to the IEBC offices and present our memorandum,” he said.
In Kakamega, hundreds of youths joined former area Senator Boni Khalwale in protests despite police disallowing the demos.
The protesters marched through the streets of Kakamega town chanting “Chiloba Must Go!!”, in reference to the besieged IEBC Chief Executive officer Ezra Chiloba.
The demos did not, however, last long after anti-riot police officers dispersed the protesters.
Residents expressed their displeasure with the county leadership.
“Where is the governor, woman rep, senator and MCAs? Why are they not standing with Khalwale in the fight for reforms?” said Mr Samuel Otuku, a resident.
Police remained vigilant and patrolled the town and dispersed those standing in groups using tear gas.
Earlier, county police commander Tito Kilonzo said the protests had been disallowed on security grounds as they could lead to a breakdown in law and order.
“We received communication last night to stop the planned demonstrations and have informed the organisers about it,” said Mr Kilonzi.
Unshaken, Nasa supporters said they would show up and take part in the protests.
Orange Democratic Movement county youth leader Mophat Mandela and his Amani National Congress counterpart Collins Babu maintained said they would go ahead with the protests as planned.
“The protests are on until further notice. We notified police and asked them to provide adequate security to our supporters during the peaceful demonstrations,” said Mr Mandela.
He said he planned to meet the county security team to find out why the protests had been banned.
“The reasons given by police for call off the protests are not convincing. We are determined to proceed and hand over our memorandum to the IEBC county returning officer,” said Mr Mandela.
In Mombasa, a contingent of anti-riot police was deployed to Uhuru Gardens along Moi Avenue, where the demos were expected to start.
The officers in anti-riot gear kept watch at the city’s landmark elephant tusks (Mapembeni).
Businesses along the busy road and other areas in the Central Business District of the town went on normally as curious onlookers milled around police trucks.
Governor Hassan Joho is expected to lead other county leaders and residents in the demos, according to communications from his office.
In Nairobi, security has been beefed up at IEBC’s Anniversary Towers headquarters.
Police officers also patrolled various streets leading to the IEBC offices as well as entrance to the University of Nairobi, whose students held demonstrations last week to protest the arrest of their alumnus, Embakasi East Babu Owino.
Another contingent of officers riding on horse back also manned streets in the city in what appeared to be an effort to contain a breakout of chaos during the demonstrations.
In Homa Bay, Nasa supporters lit bonfires as they demanded the removal of IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba and other officials accused of bungling August 8 polls.
Reported by Rushdie Oudia, Benson Amadala, Silas Apollo, Elisha Otieno, Justus Ochieng, Barack Oduor and Mohamed Ahmed.
Results transmission kits reconfigured to bar officials from sending text without attaching forms.