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Kenya: 2 protesters killed in outcry over electoral body

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AP/Ben Curtis

(Read caption) Opposition demonstrators calling for the disbandment of the electoral commission over allegations of bias and corruption, protest in downtown Nairobi, Kenya Monday, June 6, 2016. While demonstrations led by opposition leaders in the capital were largely peaceful, police in the western town of Kisumu tear-gassed demonstrators who responded by throwing stones and witnesses say some people were killed by police.

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Police killed two people in the western Kenyan town of Kisumu on Monday during protests calling for the disbandment of the national electoral commission over allegations of bias and corruption, witnesses said.

The weekly protests resumed Monday after attempts to start negotiations between the government and the opposition on how to reform the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission failed. Police initially barred the demonstrations, but a court ruled that the constitution allows picketing and ordered police to provide protesters with security.

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Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga led peaceful demonstrations in the capital, Nairobi, but police in Kisumu tear-gassed demonstrators who responded by throwing stones.

A witness, Gerald Owino, said police shot dead two protesters. Another witness, Edwin Opiyo, said the body of one person shot dead was still on the road.

Police said the protesters had attacked them.

Two weeks ago, police killed one protester in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, and two in neighboring Siaya county in similar protests.

The electoral commission's chairman, Issack Hassan, said the commission will not be disbanded and challenged the opposition to provide evidence of the alleged corruption and bias.

Some commission members have been named in a case in which two executives of British printing firm Smith and Ouzman Ltd. were convicted in the U.K. for making corrupt payments to individuals in various countries, including Kenya, to win business for the company.

Odinga, who lost the 2013 presidential election to Uhuru Kenyatta, said the protests will continue until the commission is disbanded.

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Kenyatta has said he does not have the power to disband the commission and all negotiations should be done in parliament. The opposition says the government has a majority in parliament and will ensure the motion does not go through.