Kenyan police clash with protesters after opposition leader quits election

Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga march in Nairobi on Wednesday.

(CNN)Thousands of supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition converged on downtown Nairobi on Wednesday, the day after he quit a presidential election rerun because he did not believe an unreformed election commission can hold a fair vote.

Police tried to prevent the crowd from reaching its destination, the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), by firing bullets into the air and releasing tear gas. Some protesters did make it, taunting the police who guarded the building on their arrival.
A smaller crowd of demonstrators supporting incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta threw stones and rocks at the Odinga supporters.

Court paves way for other candidates

    Raila Odinga quit the presidential rerun despite successfully challenging the outcome of the first vote.
    The latest protests in the increasingly fraught Kenyan political situation came on the day a High Court ruled that an also-ran candidate in August's presidential elections, Ekuru Aukot -- a lawyer who drafted the 2010 constitution and is leader of the Third Way Alliance -- could stay on the ballot.
    Aukot had asked the court to quash a notice in the government's Kenya Gazette that named Odinga and Kenyatta as the only candidates in the presidential election rerun scheduled for October 26.
    In a move that surprised many, including international election observers, Kenya's Supreme Court invalidated the results of the August 8 vote that showed Kenyatta winning a second term, and ordered a new election within 60 days, claiming irregularities.
    Supporters of Odinga protest on Wednesday.
    Aukot told Kenyan television, however, that he would only stand if he was satisfied by new election laws.
    "They underestimated our smallness -- we told them try sleeping in a dark room with a mosquito," he told the Kenya Television Network, welcoming the court decision. "We still believe that there are issues that must be addressed at the IEBC including the bad elements, those individuals at the IEBC who may have bungled the August election."
    The ruling has also opened the way for other contestants including the US-based independent candidate Japheth Kaluyu, according to Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper.

    Parliament amendment

    Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta claims to have won the August 8 election.
    In a new complication, Parliament passed an amendment on Wednesday to the election laws, saying that if one candidate withdrew from a repeat presidential election, the other would automatically win, Reuters reported.
    However, the change would only become law once Kenyatta signs it.
    "We are waiting for Kenyatta to put his signature on these unconstitutional amendments, then we'll simply take the issue to the high court and they will almost certainly quash them," NASA lawyer Nelson Havi told CNN in Nairobi.
    Odinga's coalition issued a statement Tuesday explaining that it had issued a checklist of reforms needed before the rerun, and while the opposition and the IEBC did not dispute the list, they argued that they would not have enough time to make the changes before October 26.
    "We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel to ensure that the 'illegalities and irregularities' that led to the invalidation of the 8th August (vote) ... do not happen again. All indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one," the statement said.
    It accused Kenyatta and the Jubilee administration of trying to amend election laws to "reinstall the old order."
    In a tweet Wednesday, Kenyatta showed his support for the election with the slogan "We are all together" and a countdown to the vote.
    After Kenyatta was declared the winner in the initial vote, there was some sporadic violence that claimed the lives of at least 24 people.
    Kenyatta is the son of the country's first president after independence and Odinga is the son of the first vice president, with both men part of a political dynasty that has ruled the country since the UK, the former colonial power, left more than 50 years ago.