NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya’s president on Wednesday called for a bipartisan committee of lawmakers to resolve a row over an electoral oversight body at the heart of more than a month of unrest, but the opposition swiftly dismissed the initiative.
At least four people have been killed in almost weekly protests since late April held by people who want the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) scrapped, saying it is too biased to deliver a fair vote in 2017.
The opposition CORD coalition wants dialogue but has rejected the government’s demand that any talks be held in parliament in line with constitutional requirements.
A previous opposition petition was rejected by parliament, where President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition dominates.
Kenyatta said he was proposing a joint select committee of pro-government and opposition MPs.
“I do hope (CORD) ... will also accept for us to follow this particular ground and resolve the impasse of the IEBC within the framework of ... our constitution,” he said.
The opposition dismissed the offer and said protests would continue as planned. “There is nothing new the president has said,” Dennis Onyango, spokesman for opposition leader Raila Odinga, told Reuters.
The opposition has summoned people back onto the streets next week, defying a ban announced by the government on Monday on grounds that protests had turned violent.
Opposition figures say police used live ammunition that killed protesters in western Kenya. Officials deny this.
The violence has worried the east African state’s Western donors, prompting ambassadors from the United States, Britain and others to call for dialogue and condemn what they have described as the use of excessive force by police.
Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich