Kenyan opposition supporters began protests to demand an overhaul of the electoral authority as foreign ambassadors called for a resumption of negotiations on how a rerun of the country’s annulled presidential election will be handled. Police fired teargas to disperse National Super Alliance protesters in the capital, Nairobi, and the western city of Kisumu, as dozens of people marched through the port city of Mombasa. The main business lobby group warned that uncertainty about the vote is damaging the economy. “We are deeply concerned by the deterioration in the political atmosphere and the impact this has had on preparations for the election,” U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Bob Godec said in a statement he read on behalf of 14 diplomats in the East African nation.
Kenya is scheduled to hold the rerun on Oct. 26, after the Supreme Court annulled the Aug. 8 election citing “irregularities and illegalities” by the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission. The opposition has demanded the commission change staff and use different electronic systems in the new vote. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party has rejected the ultimatum and in turn proposed changes to electoral laws that an IEBC official said would disempower the commission.
Uncertainty about the new election is unnerving investors and clouding the outlook for an economy that’s already slowing. Kenya is a regional hub for companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and is on the cusp of becoming an oil exporter, with Tullow Oil Plc among firms that are developing the discovery of at least 1 billion barrels of crude resources.