Charges laid against 62 after Kenyan party primaries

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Kenya charged 62 people with offences linked to party primaries for national elections in August, including bribing voters and inciting violence, the prosecutor’s office said.

The August 8 presidential ballot between incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga will run alongside elections for members of parliament and local officials.

Devolution of certain powers to county level under Kenyatta’s presidency and the associated access to lucrative local budgets as well as high official salaries, sparked intense interest in the local contests.

Last month’s primaries for those seats, in which voters chose party candidates, were marred by violence, claims of rigging and cancelled ballots. Record numbers of candidates who failed to secure party tickets rushed to register as independents.

Among the 62 charged was asitting lawmaker and a candidate for the governorship of one of the country’s 47 local authorities, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) said in a statement.

Political parties are due to hand over names of candidates to the electoral commission by May 10 and the DPP said it would work to ensure “a secure environment for a free and peaceful election”.

Kenya’s last elections in 2013 were largely trouble-free.

But the country is still haunted by two months of violence after a disputed presidential poll in 2007, when political protests degenerated into ethnic bloodletting. More than 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 fled their homes.