Reuters International

Members of Kenya's ruling Jubilee coalition chant slogans outside the office of opposition leader of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), Raila Odinga (not in the picture), as they demonstrate in support of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) the electoral body ahead of next year's election in Nairobi, Kenya, June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

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By Humphrey Malalo

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya will replace its top electoral officials, a cross-party parliamentary committee said on Tuesday, granting victory to the opposition which had branded them biased and led protests for them to be sacked.

Nine new commissioners will take over the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission well before next August's general election, a key demand of Raila Odinga's opposition CORD coalition which said it had feared a rigged vote.

At least four people died in protests that CORD had been staging weekly, raising concerns of a return to ethnic violence that killed 1,200 people after a disputed election in 2007.

The protests began in April but CORD suspended them after President Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee coalition agreed to form a joint parliamentary committee to resolve the dispute.

That committee issued its report on Tuesday, recommending "a dignified and negotiated vacation from office" of the electoral commissioners, and setting out how their replacements will be picked to start preparations for next year's vote.

Parliament must still vote to approve the report and it will also have to be signed off by Odinga and Kenyatta - all steps seen as formalities as the committee had wide support.

The committee also agreed various changes to the electoral laws, including an independent audit of the voter register, another key demand of the opposition.

(Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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