Kenya’s deadly polls

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enyan po­lice killed at least 11 peo­ple in a crack­down on protests as anger at the re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta erupted in the western city of Kisumu and slums in the cap­i­tal, of­fi­cials and

said yes­ter­day.

The bod­ies of nine young men shot dead overnight in Nairobi’s Mathare slum had been brought to the city morgue, a se­cu­rity of­fi­cial told Reuters. The men were killed dur­ing po­lice anti-loot­ing op­er­a­tions, the of­fi­cial added. Sep­a­rately, a young girl in Mathare was killed by po­lice fir­ing “spo­radic shots”, a wit­ness said. The run-down neigh­bour­hood is loyal to 72-year-old op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga, whose party re­jected Tues­day’s vote as a “cha­rade”.

The un­rest erupted mo­ments af­ter Kenya’s elec­tion com­mis­sion an­nounced late on Fri­day that Keny­atta, 55, had se­cured a sec­ond five-year term in of­fice, de­spite op­po­si­tion al­le­ga­tions that the tally was a fraud.

Keny­atta’s re-elec­tion was greeted with mixed feel­ings – some with ju­bi­la­tion, oth­ers with de­fi­ance and a sense of re­lief.

There were wild scenes of cel­e­bra­tion out­side the Kenya In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in cen­tral Nairobi where Keny­atta de­liv­ered a speech shortly af­ter re­turn­ing from the re­sults cen­tre where he was de­clared pres­i­dent with 54.3% of the vote, with Wil­liam Ruto as his deputy.

“Im­me­di­ately when the IEBC [In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion] an­nounced the re­sults, peo­ple gath­ered at Ichaw­eri Vil­lage in Gatundu South Ki­ambu County [Keny­atta’s neigh­bour­hood] to sing and dance and praise the Lord,” a sup­porter said.

In his ac­cep­tance speech, Keny­atta, flanked by his wife, Mar­garet, reached out to his op­po­nent, Raila Odinga, who got 44.7% of the vote.

“We are not en­e­mies, we are all cit­i­zens of one repub­lic,” he said. “As in ev­ery com­pe­ti­tion, there will al­ways be win­ners and losers, but we all be­long to one great na­tion called Kenya and I ex­tend a hand of friend­ship, co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship, know­ing full well that this country needs all of us pulling to­gether.”

He also urged calm amid fears that post-elec­tion protests could turn vi­o­lent and wide­spread, as it hap­pened af­ter the 2007 elec­tions.

Odinga’s Na­tional Su­per Al­liance on Thurs­day al­leged there was mas­sive rig­ging of the elec­tion re­sults and de­clared him the win­ner.

The murder of the IEBC’s IT man­ager, Chris Msando, a week be­fore the elec­tions added to fears of voter rig­ging. The Na­tional Su­per Al­liance claimed the elec­tions data­base was hacked and de­manded ac­cess to it hours be­fore the re­sults were an­nounced on Fri­day.

Ob­servers, in­clud­ing former South African pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, who led the African Union’s mis­sion, said the Na­tional Su­per Al­liance should fol­low cor­rect pro­ce­dures for lodg­ing com­plaints and not fo­ment public un­rest.

By the time of go­ing to press yes­ter­day, Odinga had not con­ceded de­feat and there were in­di­ca­tions that the Na­tional Su­per Al­liance could chal­lenge the out­come in court.

Soon af­ter the re­sults were an­nounced, there were re­ports of protests in places such as Kisumu in the south­east, and in some in­for­mal set­tle­ments around Nairobi, where gun­shots were heard.

Odinga’s sup­port­ers chanted, “No Raila, no peace”, as they over­turned cars and set tyres alight in Nairobi’s Kib­era neigh­bour­hood. A car car­ry­ing elec­tion ob­servers was stoned on Fri­day night as they left the elec­tions tal­ly­ing cen­tre at Bo­mas of Kenya in Nairobi.

Yes­ter­day, po­lice ar­rested a lo­cal tele­vi­sion re­porter, ap­par­ently for wear­ing pro­tec­tive gear against their or­ders, and they at­tempted to re­strict jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing protests. This was amid al­le­ga­tions of po­lice bru­tal­ity and the use of live am­mu­ni­tion on protesters.

Nyanza re­gional po­lice com­mis­sioner, Wil­son Njenga, claimed peo­ple took ad­van­tage of elec­tion griev­ances to loot and steal. Re­fer­ring to com­ments made by op­po­si­tion politi­cians in Nairobi, he said yes­ter­day ri­ot­ers were tak­ing ad­van­tage of po­lit­i­cal state­ments in or­der to com­mit crimes. A bus was burnt on Fri­day night and a bank was bro­ken into, but he de­nied po­lice were us­ing ex­ces­sive force.

“They will not be al­lowed to come into town to threaten prop­erty and busi­ness­peo­ple. We are in­tent on deal­ing with any­body break­ing the law.”

Ter­ror­ist at­tacks, such as the one on the West­gate Mall in Nairobi four years ago also saw se­cu­rity mea­sures stepped up in the country.

Mean­while, there were signs in the mid­dle class ar­eas of Nairobi yes­ter­day that life was slowly re­turn­ing to nor­mal as the malls were busy.

An­a­lyst and ac­tivist John Githongo, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Inuka Kenya Trust, said po­lice “per­formed won­der­fully on elec­tion day” but post-elec­tion was a dif­fer­ent story.

“There were pho­to­graphs of po­lice op­er­at­ing un­der dif­fer­ent rules when deal­ing with the poor. Part of the rea­son Kenyans have been ner­vous to go back to work is that they knew that, if in­structed, the po­lice would be­have with ex­treme force, es­pe­cially in places like Kisumu and the in­for­mal set­tle­ments in Nairobi.”

This was the first elec­tion in which Kenyans liv­ing in Tan­za­nia, Bu­rundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa, as well as pris­on­ers lo­cally, were al­lowed to vote. In South Africa, Keny­atta re­ceived 358 votes as op­posed to Odinga’s 302.

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