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Kenyan opposition accepts lawyer's nomination as election head

By Humphrey Malalo

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan legislators on Tuesday approved a corporate lawyer to head the electoral board, hoping to restore voters' confidence in the much-maligned body before national elections later this year.

The previous electoral board resigned in October after the opposition accused them of corruption, leading to deadly protests.

The new candidate to head the electoral board, Wafula Chebukati, unsuccessfully ran for parliament in 2007 on the opposition ticket but has largely stayed out of politics since then, practicing as an independent corporate lawyer.

His appointment now needs to be confirmed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who will be seeking a second term in the August 8 elections. Kenyatta's long-time opponent Raila Odinga is also likely to run.

Opposition politicians appeared satisfied with Chebukati's nomination.

"He will deliver free and credible elections," Chris Wamalwa, an opposition legislator, said during the hearings.

More than 1,200 people were killed in post-election violence in Kenya in 2007, after the opposition said the government rigged the results.

Also on Tuesday, lawmakers approved a former Anglican archbishop to head the anti-graft watchdog.

Eliud Wabukala will head the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, replacing the former chairman who quit over an alleged conflict of interest.

Kenyan politics is dogged by corruption scandals. Doctors are have been strike for five weeks, saying millions of dollars has gone missing from the Health Ministry's budget while they are poorly paid and public hospitals lack basic equipment like gloves.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

 

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