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Kenya Clears Out Electoral Officials After Deadly Protests

  • Reuters

FILE - A motorcycle carrying protesters holding a placard using the acronym of the national electoral commission, drives ahead of demonstrators on foot calling for the disbandment of the commission over allegations of bias and corruption, in Nairobi, Kenya, June 6, 2016.

FILE - A motorcycle carrying protesters holding a placard using the acronym of the national electoral commission, drives ahead of demonstrators on foot calling for the disbandment of the commission over allegations of bias and corruption, in Nairobi, Kenya, June 6, 2016.

Kenya will replace its top electoral officials, a cross-party parliamentary committee said Tuesday, granting victory to the opposition which had branded them biased and led protests for them to be sacked.

Nine new commissioners will take over the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission well before next August's general election, a key demand of Raila Odinga's opposition CORD coalition which said it had feared a rigged vote.

At least four people died in protests that CORD had been staging weekly, raising concerns of a return to ethnic violence that killed 1,200 people after a disputed election in 2007.

The protests began in April, but CORD suspended them after President Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee coalition agreed to form a joint parliamentary committee to resolve the dispute.

That committee issued its report Tuesday, recommending "a dignified and negotiated vacation from office" of the electoral commissioners, and setting out how their replacements will be picked to start preparations for next year's vote.

Parliament must still vote to approve the report and it will also have to be signed off by Odinga and Kenyatta — all steps seen as formalities as the committee had wide support.

The committee also agreed to various changes to the electoral laws, including an independent audit of the voter register, another key demand of the opposition.

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