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Kenyan police use bullets to disperse protesters

Latest update : 2008-01-28

Kenyan police have used tear gas and bullets to disperse protests against President Kibaki’s election, killing two people in Kisumu. (Report : C. Vanier)

Kenya was the scene of a fresh standoff on Wednesday between police and the country’s opposition movement, which has vowed to hold three days of demonstrations. In spite of a government ban, Raila Odinga’s followers demonstrated against President Mwai Kibaki in cities all over the country. In Kisumu, an opposition stronghold in the west of the country, the protests were severely repressed. Two protesters were killed while several others were injured by bullets, according to a senior local police representative.  According to FRANCE 24’s correspondents Cyril Vanier and Virginie Herz, a fragile calm returned to the Kenyan capital at nightfall after police erected road blocks to empty the town centre.
Our correspondents reported that riot police charged a group of 200-300 protesters in Nairobi mid-morning as they attempted to leave the Mathare slum. The police used tear gas and even live ammunition to disperse the crowd. Armed with machetes, the protesters were chanting “Without Raila (Odinga), no peace!” Several people are believed to have been injured. Meanwhile, in the Nairobi slum of Kibera, three men were shot in the leg, according to a journalist from AFP. The protesters were trying to reach the city’s largest park, Uhuru, in response to the call for protest by opposition party ODM (Orange Democratic Movement), which accuses Mwai Kibaki of rigging the elections.
In spite of the casualties, Raila Odinga continued to call for demonstrations on Thursday and Friday. “Nothing will stop us from organizing these demonstrations,” the failed presidential candidate told a press conference in Nairobi. “Kenyans will continue to demand respect for their constitutional right to demonstrate.”
Our correspondents speak of sporadic protests, involving groups of no more than 200-300 people. According to their estimates, the violence has subsided somewhat since the start of the year, which saw more than 700 people killed in riots, police raids and tribal violence following the re-election of Mwai Kibaki.
The opposition won the sought-after post of parliament speaker at the country’s first parliamentary session on Tuesday, thus obtaining a highly symbolic victory. Currently, neither party holds the parliamentary majority.

Date created : 2008-01-16