Death toll rises amid Kenya’s ri­ot­ing over dis­puted vote

9-year-old girl killed by stray bul­let

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

Kenya’s post-elec­tion vi­o­lence wors­ened yes­ter­day as po­lice used tear gas on a con­voy of op­po­si­tion of­fi­cials in the cap­i­tal and a mor­tu­ary of­fi­cial said nine bod­ies with gun­shot wounds were brought to a Nairobi morgue from a slum that’s an op­po­si­tion stronghold.

As ri­ot­ing con­tin­ued the day af­ter Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta won a sec­ond term in a vote the op­po­si­tion claims had been rigged, an an­guished fa­ther said his 9-year-old daugh­ter was killed by a stray bul­let while play­ing with friends. Kenyan po­lice shot and killed two peo­ple dur­ing riots by op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers on the out­skirts of Kisumu, a city where op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga has strong sup­port, ac­cord­ing to Leonard Katana, a re­gional po­lice com­man­der. An­other five peo­ple were in­jured by gun­fire in Kisumu, Katana said.

The govern­ment should stop “the ran­dom killing of our peo­ple,” Od­ings’s brother Oburu Odinga said. The govern­ment ac­cused “crim­i­nals” of tak­ing ad­van­tage of the tense elec­tion pe­riod to loot and de­stroy prop­erty.

In Nairobi slums loyal to Odinga, po­lice opened fire to dis­perse protesters who blocked roads and set up burn­ing bar­ri­cades. As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tog­ra­phers saw po­lice charg­ing demon­stra­tors and fir­ing live rounds and tear gas in the Mathare area.

Wy­cliff Mokaya told The As­so­ci­ated Press his 9-year-old daugh­ter was killed by a stray bul­let while on their third-floor bal­cony in Mathare. “I was watch­ing her play with her friends when she sud­denly fell down,” Mokaya said. “She was my only hope.” A mor­tu­ary of­fi­cial said nine bod­ies with gun­shot wounds were brought to the Nairobi morgue from Mathare. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he is not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia.

Protesters, some with rocks or sticks, ran for cover as they came un­der fire in an­other Nairobi slum, Kib­era. One per­son was shot and killed in Kib­era overnight, said Sam Ochieng, a former chair­man for Odinga’s party there. An As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tog­ra­pher said po­lice used tear gas on a large con­voy of ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing op­po­si­tion of­fi­cials that tried to en­ter Kib­era. Po­lice also fired guns into the air.

‘Hand of friend­ship’

Most of the country of 45 mil­lion peo­ple re­mained calm the day af­ter the elec­tion com­mis­sion an­nounced that Keny­atta, whose fa­ther was Kenya’s first pres­i­dent af­ter in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tish colonial rule, had won a sec­ond, five-year term. In a vic­tory speech, Keny­atta said he was ex­tend­ing a “hand of friend­ship” to the op­po­si­tion, which al­leged that the elec­tion com­mis­sion’s data­base had been hacked and re­sults were ma­nip­u­lated against Odinga.

Keny­atta won with a de­ci­sive 54 per­cent of the vote to nearly 45 per­cent for Odinga, but the bit­ter dis­pute over the in­tegrity of the elec­tion process tem­pered what many Kenyans had hoped would be a cel­e­bra­tion of democ­racy in a re­gional power known for its eco­nomic promise and long-term sta­bil­ity. The un­rest also ex­posed di­vi­sions in a so­ci­ety where poverty and cor­rup­tion at top lev­els of govern­ment have an­gered large numbers of Kenyans, in­clud­ing those who have been protest­ing in the slums and see Odinga as a voice for their griev­ances.

Adding to the rift is eth­nic loy­alty. Keny­atta is widely seen as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Kikuyu peo­ple, the country’s largest eth­nic group, while Odinga is as­so­ci­ated with the Luo group, which has never pro­duced a head of state. But rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ef­forts, the in­tro­duc­tion of a pro­gres­sive con­sti­tu­tion in 2010 and an in­tense se­cu­rity op­er­a­tion dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion pe­riod have helped to ward off the kind of eth­nic vi­o­lence af­ter the 2007 elec­tion in which more than 1,000 peo­ple were killed. Odinga ran un­suc­cess­fully in that elec­tion; he also lost the 2013 vote to Keny­atta and took al­le­ga­tions of vote-tam­per­ing to Kenya’s high­est court, which re­jected his case.

Re­call­ing its failed le­gal chal­lenge in 2013, the op­po­si­tion has said it will not go to court again. Its top lead­ers have, so far, re­frained from pub­licly call­ing for mass protests. Catholic lead­ers on Satur­day ap­pealed for calm and asked se­cu­rity forces to ex­er­cise cau­tion dur­ing protests. “No life should be lost be­cause of an elec­tion,” said John Oballa Owaa, vice chair­man of the Kenya Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops. In separate state­ments, Hu­man Rights Watch and Amnesty In­ter­na­tional also called on po­lice to ex­er­cise re­straint. —AP

NAIROBI: Res­i­dents look out from their bal­conies dur­ing clashes be­tween po­lice and protesters in the Mathare area of Nairobi. —AFP

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