Sunday, August 13, 2017

Deadly protests erupt in Kenya’s opposition strongholds

Protestors throw stones during clashes with

Protestors throw stones during clashes with riot police in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, yesterday. Three people, including a child, have been shot dead in Kenya in opposition protests which raged overnight after the hotly disputed poll victory of President Kenyatta. PHOTO | AFP 

Nairobi. Eleven people, including a child, have been shot dead in Kenya during opposition protests which flared for a second day Saturday after the hotly disputed election victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Demonstrations and running battles with police broke out in isolated parts of Nairobi slums after anger in opposition strongholds against Tuesday’s election that losing candidate Raila Odinga claims was massively rigged.

Interior Minister Fred Matiangi blamed the unrest on “criminal elements” looting and robbing businesses and assured Kenyans that “there is no need for alarm”, urging them to return to their daily lives.

The uncertainty gripping the nation provided a grim reminder of the disputed 2007 election which led to two months of ethno-political violence that left 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.

Kenyatta was declared the victor in the presidential election Friday night with 54.27 percent to Odinga’s 44.74, with protests erupting in the opposition leader’s strongholds in Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu almost immediately.

Eight bodies have been taken to the Nairobi city morgue from three slums which erupted into protests after President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the victor in a disputed election, a senior police officer said Saturday.

Seven had sustained gunshot wounds, he said noting the eight bodies came from the Mathare, Kibera and Kawangware areas. “They have all been taken to the City mortuary,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

The body of a young girl killed in Mathare earlier had yet to be collected, he said.

Local government official Wilson Njega confirmed one person had been shot dead outside Kisumu in protests, while an AFP reporter saw three patients with gunshot wounds in the city’s hospital.

At the hospital Truphena Achieng said his brother had been shot and injured “and yet he was just standing outside our house where people were demonstrating ... we don’t know why police were shooting.”

In the southwestern town of Siaya, a police officer speaking on condition of anonymity said a man had been shot dead in a demonstration, but “we have not managed to collect the body... because of resistance from protesters.”

On Saturday morning, an AFP photographer saw the body of a girl whose family said she had been shot in the back while watching the protests from their balcony in Mathare, a slum in the capital.

Matiangi denied there had been any casualties, and said police had clamped down on “erratic incidents of lawlessness,” adding the government would stop at nothing to protect citizens.

“The police have not used live bullets on any peaceful protesters,” he said.

Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged police to show restraint.

“With growing reports of demonstrations and heavy gunfire in some areas, it is important for security forces to work to de-escalate -- not escalate -- the violence,” said Otsieno Namwaya, Africa researcher at HRW.

“The police should not use tear gas or live ammunition simply because they consider a gathering unlawful.” (NMG)