Kenya elec­tion death toll rises

Ca­su­al­ties in­clude pro­test­ers shot by po­lice in ar­eas loyal to pres­i­dent’s op­po­nent.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­times.com

At least 24 have been killed, many of them pro­test­ers shot by po­lice.

JO­HAN­NES­BURG, South Africa — At least 24 peo­ple have been shot to death by po­lice in vi­o­lence dur­ing Kenya’s dis­puted elec­tion, in­clud­ing many killed in protests in op­po­si­tion strongholds af­ter Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta’s vic­tory late Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to Kenyan hu­man rights ob­servers.

The Kenya Red Cross So­ci­ety said it picked up 93 peo­ple in­jured by vi­o­lence. MSF Kenya, which has its own am­bu­lances and in­volves fig­ures not counted by the Red Cross, re­ported 54 peo­ple were treated at its clin­ics, rais­ing the toll to at least 150 wounded.

Po­lice on Sat­ur­day fired live bul­lets and tear gas on pro­test­ers in volatile ar­eas of Nairobi and other parts of the coun­try, pro­vok­ing anger from op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers and con­dem­na­tion from hu­man rights ac­tivists.

Kenya faced its third suc­ces­sive dis­puted elec­tion af­ter the op­po­si­tion Na­tional Su­per Al­liance said its can­di­date, Raila Odinga, won but Keny­atta, the in­cum­bent, had col­luded with the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion to steal the elec­tion.

Kenya has a vi­brant cap­i­tal, a bur­geon­ing tech sec­tor and ro­bust mid­dle class, but it also faces fre­quent ter­ror­ist at­tacks, is em­broiled in war against the Al Qaeda-al­lied Shabab in neigh­bor­ing Somalia and loses about $6 bil­lion a year to cor­rup­tion, al­most a third of its gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

Ev­ery five years dur­ing bit­terly con­tested elec­tions, vot­ers di­vide largely along eth­nic lines over who will gain power, which is of­ten used to hand out jobs and pa­tron­age to eth­nic al­lies. In 2007 elec­tion vi­o­lence flared across Kenya, leav­ing an es­ti­mated 1,500 dead, as ri­val eth­nic groups dragged peo­ple from their houses and killed them over a dis­puted re­sult.

Kenya’s mas­sive de­ploy­ment of riot po­lice in op­po­si­tion strongholds ap­pears de­signed to pre­vent the na­tion from slid­ing into a sim­i­lar con­flict. But rights ob­servers said po­lice have used ex­ces­sive force to quell demon­stra­tions. The Kenyan Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion said 17 of the 24 killed since the Aug. 8 elec­tion died in the cap­i­tal, Nairobi.

In the op­po­si­tion heart­land, loyal sup­port­ers look to the party lead­ers to de­ter­mine their re­sponse to the re­sult.

Al­though the party has called for calm and urged sup­port­ers not to put their lives in dan­ger, lead­ers have also made ref­er­ence to Kenyans ris­ing up to de­fend democ­racy.

The dead in­clude at least eight men killed by gun­shots from Nairobi’s Mathare slum af­ter Fri­day night’s elec­tion re­sult.

They were taken to the city morgue, an of­fi­cial told The Times.

Wit­nesses re­ported see­ing po­lice fire live am­mu­ni­tion and said they re­cov­ered spent ri­fle car­tridges in Mathare and Kib­era. They said they saw po­lice in those ar­eas drag peo­ple from their houses and beat them. One wit­ness re­ported see­ing po­lice shoot a man protest­ing in Kib­era.

Reuters re­ported a small girl was killed in Mathare as po­lice fired shots. Dozens more were wounded, in­clud­ing chil­dren. Some cases of loot­ing were re­ported.

At a news con­fer­ence, NASA said at least 100 Kenyans had been shot by po­lice and pro­duced hand­fuls of bul­lets used against pro­test­ers.

“Th­ese are the bul­lets that the gov­ern­ment is us­ing to kill in­no­cent Kenyans,” said John­stone Muthama at a news con­fer­ence Sat­ur­day. “Over 100 in­no­cent peo­ple have been killed. Po­lice have put them in body bags and dis­posed of them. We will not be calm. We will not re­lent.”

Their claims did not match those of wit­nesses or rights groups and they pro­duced no ev­i­dence of where and when the deaths oc­curred.

NASA lead­ers con­tinue to rule out court ac­tion, the le­gal av­enue for elec­tion dis­putes in Kenya.

A con­voy of op­po­si­tion lead­ers and law­mak­ers tried to visit the Kib­era slum where protests were un­fold­ing Sat­ur­day but were de­nied ac­cess by po­lice.

In pre­lim­i­nary re­ports, in­de­pen­dent in­ter­na­tional ob­servers have found no sys­tem­atic ef­forts to ma­nip­u­late the elec­tion vot­ing. The IEBC said there had been an at­tempt to hack its com­puter sys­tem, which failed.

A lo­cal ob­server group, Elec­tions Ob­ser­va­tion Group, re­ported Sat­ur­day it had ob­served re­sults at 1,692 of the more than 40,000 polling sta­tions and found its re­sult re­flected the of­fi­cial IEBC tally but said it was pre­ma­ture to call the elec­tion free and fair.

Kenyan act­ing In­te­rior Min­is­ter Fred Ma­tiangi de­nied that po­lice fired live bul­lets and said there were no real pro­test­ers, just crim­i­nals.

“There are no demon­stra­tions. They are loot­ers, and loot­ers are crim­i­nals who ought to be ar­rested,” he said.

But Kenya Na­tional Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion Chair­woman Kag­wiria Mbo­gori re­jected his claim and said the use of live am­mu­ni­tion was “to­tally un­ac­cept­able.” She called on po­lice to stop us­ing live am­mu­ni­tion against civil­ians.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional and Hu­man Rights Watch also re­ported po­lice us­ing bul­lets and called for re­straint.

“The po­lice should not use tear gas or live am­mu­ni­tion sim­ply be­cause they con­sider a gath­er­ing un­law­ful,” said Ot­sieno Namwaya of Hu­man Rights Watch.

Kenya has a his­tory of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence and forced dis­ap­pear­ances, tor­ture and ex­e­cu­tions by se­cu­rity forces. In the first 10 months of last year, 122 peo­ple were killed by se­cu­rity forces, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said. It also used lethal force to dis­perse demon­stra­tions last year.

Bernard Owino, 34, a bar­ber and op­po­si­tion sup­porter liv­ing in Kib­era, said he saw po­lice shoot a man and hit and kick a woman. He said two other peo­ple were shot and in­jured by po­lice who en­tered their houses.

He fled when the shoot­ing started but later picked up four spent bul­lets. He said the pro­test­ers were not armed.

“You can’t face live bul­lets with an empty hand,” he said. “I don’t like it at all. I don’t know why the gov­ern­ment is bring­ing so many po­lice to Kib­era. They have just come and they are pro­vok­ing peo­ple.”

Con­stan­tine Lun­yama of Kib­era said she was about 200 yards away when po­lice started shoot­ing live am­mu­ni­tion.

“It came from the po­lice side. We have seen some guys taken to the mor­tu­ary and some guys rushed to hos­pi­tal,” he said.

Christo­pher Ang­wenyi, a peace ac­tivist in the Mathare slum district, said he saw three bod­ies with gun­shot wounds Sat­ur­day, in­clud­ing two women.

He saw a dozen peo­ple in a clinic who told him they had been hit on the head by po­lice.

“I can con­firm the po­lice were shoot­ing live bul­lets,” he said. “It’s very painful, know­ing that our con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­tees peace­ful demon­stra­tions. It’s very painful to see the shoot­ing by po­lice.”

Dai Kurokawa Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

A SUP­PORTER of op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga con­fronts of­fi­cers in the Kib­era slum in Nairobi, Kenya.

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