Sunday August 13, 2017
09:04 AM GMT+8

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NAIROBI, Aug 13 — Kenya’s main opposition said state security forces killed more than 100 people in clashes related to this week’s disputed elections. The authorities said they had no knowledge of any deaths and that the country remains largely peaceful.

Displaying a handful of spent cartridges at a briefing yesterday in the capital, Nairobi, Senator Johnstone Muthama of the National Super Alliance said the police are using a shoot-to-kill-policy against its supporters, whose corpses are being taken away in body bags.

Senator James Orengo, another alliance leader, said elite paramilitary units carried out the killings in three city slums, as well as in Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu in western Kenya.

“The violence being meted out on these defenseless citizens in their residential neighborhoods is intended to subjugate the will of the people and Nasa into submission,” Muthama said, using the acronym for the alliance. “We will not be cowed. We will not relent.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner late Friday of an Aug 8 vote the electoral commission said was free and fair. Nasa said the commission’s computer system was hacked to rig the results and warned that its supporters would rise up in response.

Violent elections

Kenya elections have routinely been marred by violence since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1991. At least 1,100 people died in the wake of a disputed 2007 vote that Raila Odinga lost to Mwai Kibaki, and about 350,000 people were forced to flee their homes.

Protracted turmoil could derail an economy that’s grown an average of 5.7 per cent a year since Kenyatta took power in 2013, and threaten its reputation as a top African investment and tourist destination. The country is the world’s largest exporter of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc and General Electric Co.

A supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga runs past a burned shack in Kibera slum, Nairobi August 12, 2017. — Reuters picA supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga runs past a burned shack in Kibera slum, Nairobi August 12, 2017. — Reuters picProtesters spilled onto the streets of several of Nairobi’s slums, including the southwestern areas of Kibera and Kawangware, soon after the election outcome was announced, setting dwellings alight and looting shops, as police used teargas to disperse them.

There were also protests in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold, where the Associated Press reported two people were killed.

The unrest had abated in Kawangware by dyesteray morning, residents said.

Expecting peace’

“We are expecting peace,” said Gilbert Githinji, 58, who sells hardware and electrical goods from a stall in the area. “We are not worried. The government is ready to deal with this. I think things will be back to normal on Monday.”

The situation remained tense in Kibera, Nairobi’s biggest slum, where small groups of demonstrators used rocks and burning tires to barricade a road before being dispersed by the paramilitary forces. Several gunshots could be heard.

“They have not delivered what we have voted for,” said Wycliffe Ochieng, a 20-year-old laborer from Kibera. “People are very angry. We have to protest, because they are going against our wishes. The police are using teargas and live bullets. We have not had any information of anyone being hurt.”

Fred Matiang’i, the acting interior secretary, said that apart from the flareups in Kibera and Kisumu, the country remained calm and peaceful.

“By and large, lives have returned to normal,” he told reporters in Nairobi. “There have been erratic incidents of lawlessness. The security forces have reported that they have responded appropriately and they have restored normalcy in most of these areas. Our country is safe, our country is secure. I do not know of any casualties as we speak right now. Police have not used any disproportionate force.”

Excessive force

Three civil-rights groups contradicted Matiang’i, saying they had received reports that excessive force had been used to break up post-election protests in at least 12 areas.

The security forces’ actions have “led to the loss of lives and destruction of property,” the Coalition for Constitution Implementation Kenya, the Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders Kenya and Bunge la Mwananchi said by email.

“We call on the international community and other stakeholders to intervene to stop the situation from deteriorating further and to stem further injuries and loss of lives.”

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said in a statement that it had established that 17 people had died in Nairobi in post-election violence, and seven more had been killed in other towns.

“We have received post-election protesters in our hospital with various injuries,” Jacob Simuyu, a spokesman for Kenya National Hospital, said by phone on Saturday. “We had discharged 15 by 5pm, and had about 15 at the hospital. More were coming. We can’t say the current number.”

Kenyatta, 55, won about 54 percent of the vote, while his main rival, Odinga, 72, garnered almost 45 percent, tallies released by the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission showed. The opposition said the commission flouted counting procedures and failed to provide documents to back up its totals.

The coalition is considering its next steps, though it has ruled out taking the dispute to court, Orengo said yesterday.

Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations, urged Odinga to address any grievances he had through the courts.

“Peace, stability and prosperity depend on the political leaders of Kenya,” he said in an emailed statement. “They should be careful with their rhetoric and actions in this tense atmosphere and I urge them to act responsibly.” — Bloomberg

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