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Kenya's opposition urges reform of electoral commission

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga Sunday said the coalition he leads will hold nationwide campaigns to urge reforms of the electoral commission before the fresh presidential elections next month.

Odinga has maintained that the electoral commission must be reformed or he will not participate in the new election ordered by the Supreme Court when it nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election in August. One of the reforms he wants is the removal of a dozen top officials he accuses of electoral fraud. The electoral commission has set Oct 17 for the repeat election.

Those who perpetrated illegalities and irregularities in the nullified election remain in place, "claiming readiness to conduct another election," Odinga told thousands of supporters at a rally.

"We are ready to go for elections, even tomorrow, but we will not go to elections with a compromised electoral commission," Odinga said. Odinga accused the electoral commission of working with Kenyatta's Jubilee party to rig the elections.

"IEBC (the electoral commission) and Jubilee are partners in crime," said Odinga. "The two need each other. If Jubilee is in power, it will protect the co-conspirators and fraudsters in IEBC. Those IEBC officials have every reason to protect Jubilee as their only source of protection."

Kenyatta has said the electoral commission should not be changed and he even warned the judiciary from interfering.

Other changes that Odinga wants include disqualifying a French firm, OT-Morpho, from supplying equipment to transmit results, claiming that only two of more than 40,000 kits were used to transmit the nullified election results and that staff from the company may be complicit in electoral fraud. Odinga also said the Al Ghurair printing firm should be blacklisted from supplying ballot papers because the Supreme Court found that some of the forms it printed that were used to transmit presidential results lacked security features such as serial numbers and water marks which were meant to prevent rigging.

Odinga has complained about the electoral commission for some time. In May 2016 he led protests calling for the removal of top officials of the electoral commission who oversaw the 2013 elections, which Odinga lost to Kenyatta and the Supreme Court upheld the results. At least five people were killed in those protests after police responded with live ammunition. Those electoral commissioners were eventually removed by parliament and replaced with the current officials.

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