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Police raid offices of pro-democracy organisation

Kenyan police and tax authorities on Wednesday raided the office of a pro-democracy organisation that has raised questions over preparations for the Aug. 8 disputed elections.

“They are outside the gates right now,” Gladwell Otieno, the executive director of Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG), told Reuters by phone.

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won the election by a margin of 1.4 million votes.

International and domestic observers say the election process was largely free and fair but opposition leader Raila Odinga has disputed the results.

Kenyan television showed pictures of the raid during which civil society leaders challenged the search warrant.

Human rights lawyer Maina Kiai asked why tax authorities had to bring three vanloads of police.

“They say they have got a search warrant … (but) the search warrant does not name AfriCOG.

“The order does not specify what they are coming to do,” he said on television.

The raid follows letters from the government on Tuesday accusing AfriCOG and another civil society organisation,

the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), of administrative and tax violations.

The threats to shut the organisations, which played a leading role in organising civil society to question and monitor the elections, provoked condemnation from the UN and international rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

NAN reports that officials said on Tuesday that the Kenyan government threateened to shut down a rights group and a pro-democracy organisation who raised queries over the disputed presidential election,

International and domestic observers have said the election process was largely free and fair, but opposition leader Raila Odinga has disputed the official results, which show incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won by a margin of 1.4 million votes.

The NGO board did not return calls or emails seeking comment and Reuters reporters were not permitted to enter its offices.

Mwenda Njoka, a spokesman for the interior minister, said the letters, circulating on social media, were genuine.

Africog and KNRC said they had not received any official communication.

“This is an attack on any kind of independent voice,” said Gladwell Otieno, the executive director of Africog.

Otieno repeatedly raised concerns about what she described as insufficient preparations by the election board in the run-up to the elections, when Kenyans chose a new president, lawmakers and local representatives.

Both organisations also expressed public concern over the unsolved torture and murder of a key election official a week before the vote.

Odinga has not yet provided any evidence of rigging but is due to address the nation on Tuesday.

His rejection of results triggered demonstrations and a deadly crackdown by police in his strongholds, including Nairobi slums and the western city of Kisumu.

George Kegoro, the head of KHRC, said his organisation was compliant with all laws and was being targeted for political reasons.

He denied they had failed to pay taxes, operated “illegal” bank accounts or employed foreigners without work permits.

“If you operate in the kind of environment we do, we have to be compliant. The rules are a drag but we observe them,” he said.

His organisation had already successfully defended itself in High Court against the same accusations, he said, making the new letter threatening de-registration “a travesty of justice”.

“We think its got to do with the politics of the season. We’ve played a leadership role in organizing civil society participation in this election.

“They (the government) don’t like that.”

Otieno said her organisation did not fall under rules governing non-governmental organizations and was properly registered.

Njoka denied the organisations were being politically targeted.

He said: “there were some issues with their auditing and accounting … If they give good accounts they may not be de-registered.”

NAN


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