Odinga: ‘There’s no work un­til Tues­day’

Op­po­si­tion leader urges fol­low­ers to stay home Mon­day

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY BEN CUR­TIS AND CHRISTO­PHER TORCHIA

NAIROBI, KENYA | Kenyan op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga urged his sup­port­ers to skip work Mon­day to protest what he charged were rigged elec­tions that gave vic­tory to Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta.

The gov­ern­ment de­nounced vi­o­lent demon­stra­tions as un­law­ful and urged Kenyans to re­turn to their jobs.

Mr. Odinga spoke on Sun­day to a cheer­ing crowd in Nairobi’s Kib­era slum, an op­po­si­tion strong­hold and a fre­quent scene of clashes be­tween stone-throw­ing pro­test­ers and po­lice fir­ing live am­mu­ni­tion and tear gas since the Aug. 8 elec­tion in which Mr. Keny­atta was de­clared the win­ner.

Mr. Odinga’s de­fi­ance fu­eled con­tin­u­ing un­cer­tainty in Kenya, an East African eco­nomic hub whose rep­u­ta­tion for sta­bil­ity has been shaken by elec­tion vi­o­lence and court chal­lenges in the past.

“There is no work un­til Tues­day, when we will an­nounce the next step,” said Mr. Odinga, who pre­vi­ously claimed that last week’s vote was rigged and has un­suc­cess­fully run for pres­i­dent on three pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions.

Kenya’s elec­tion com­mis­sion said its process was fair, and in­ter­na­tional ob­servers praised its han­dling of the elec­tion in this coun­try of 45 mil­lion peo­ple.

Late Sun­day, ma­chete-wield­ing mem­bers of two ri­val eth­nic groups — Luos and Kikuyus — con­fronted each other in Mathare, an­other Nairobi slum, wit­nesses said. An As­so­ci­ated Press jour­nal­ist in the area said he saw a Luo who had a deep ma­chete cut in his head after he was at­tacked by Kikuyus.

While most of Kenya has been calm since the elec­tion, the pos­si­bil­ity of an out­break of eth­nic vi­o­lence has been a con­cern be­cause many Kenyans vote along eth­nic lines. Mr. Keny­atta is a Kikuyu; Mr. Odinga is a Luo.

More than 1,000 peo­ple died in eth­nic-fu­eled vi­o­lence fol­low­ing Kenya’s 2007 elec­tion. Mr. Odinga was the los­ing can­di­date in that vote, and was later made prime min­is­ter in a power-shar­ing agree­ment de­signed to defuse ten­sion.

The op­po­si­tion leader’s an­nounce­ment about his “next step” left Kenyans won­der­ing whether Mr. Odinga would press his case that there was vote-tam­per­ing and even es­ca­late the sit­u­a­tion by call­ing for protests. One of his deputies pre­vi­ously ruled out the op­tion of going to court, re­call­ing Mr. Odinga’s un­suc­cess­ful le­gal chal­lenge after he lost the 2013 elec­tion. Some an­a­lysts be­lieve it is un­likely that he would ef­fec­tively ac­knowl­edge de­feat at this stage.

Mr. Odinga’s call for fol­low­ers not to work on Mon­day will test his abil­ity to mo­bi­lize his sup­port base; it could also lead to ten­sion if some sup­port­ers try to stop other peo­ple from going about their daily busi­ness.

Op­po­si­tion ar­eas, in­clud­ing the slums of Kib­era and Mathare and the city of Kisumu, were mostly quiet on Sun­day morn­ing, with many peo­ple at­tend­ing church ser­vices and po­lice pa­trolling some streets. Late Sun­day af­ter­noon, pro­test­ers threw stones and po­lice lobbed tear gas in Mathare, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ci­ated Press jour­nal­ists on the scene.

Also Sun­day, Mr. Odinga vis­ited the mother of a 9-year-old daugh­ter who was killed by a stray bul­let dur­ing clashes be­tween po­lice and pro­test­ers in Mathare on Satur­day.

Po­lice gun­fire has killed at least 24 peo­ple since the elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the state-funded Kenya Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights, which mon­i­tors gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions. How­ever po­lice de­nied the re­port on Sun­day, say­ing po­lice have killed six “crim­i­nals” who were loot­ing, ri­ot­ing and at­tack­ing po­lice of­fi­cers in the past two days.

There was “a plot to kill our sup­port­ers,” Mr. Odinga said in his brief re­marks to sup­port­ers. On Twit­ter, he said peo­ple should ob­serve a day of mourn­ing on Mon­day for “fallen pa­tri­ots.”

How­ever, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Manoah Esip­isu said Sun­day that the protests were vi­o­lent and un­law­ful, and that any peace­ful protests are a con­sti­tu­tional right and would be pro­tected by po­lice.

“But sadly, we have seen vi­o­lent protests, in which prop­erty has been dam­aged, and lives have been en­dan­gered,” Mr. Esip­isu said. “The vi­o­lent protests are un­law­ful, so let me be per­fectly clear here: The po­lice will not tol­er­ate breaches of the peace; in­stead, they will pro­tect the lives and prop­erty of Kenyans; and they will re­store law and or­der.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Kenyan op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga ges­tures to sup­port­ers gath­ered in the Mathare area of Nairobi, Kenya, on Sun­day. Mr. Odinga con­demned po­lice killings of rioters dur­ing protests after the dis­puted elec­tion and urged sup­port­ers to skip work Mon­day.

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