The party of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga called Saturday for more nationwide demonstrations against the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki next Thursday following three days of deadly protests this week.
Other days of the week would be devoted to prayers, he said, in the wake of demonstrations on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday that were strongly repressed by the police and left some 33 people dead.
At least five people were killed in western Kenya, bringing to 38 the number of deaths over the past three days related to opposition protests against President Mwai Kibaki's re-election, police said Saturday.
In the capital Nairobi, paramilitary police took up positions on Friday in the shanty town of Mathare, where demonstrators were killed on Thursday during clashes. Although police stayed out of the area on Wednesday and Thursday, they were very present on Friday, according to FRANCE 24’s Cyril Vanier. “They want to control the situation, to break up any pockets of resistance and to intervene as necessary,” he reports.
According to a police commander quoted by the AFP, 14 people were killed in Kenya on Wednesday and Thursday around the time of the opposition protests. Seven of the victims were killed in Nairobi, in slums like Mathare, and the seven others were killed in Kisumu, a town in the west of the country. Opposition leader Raila Odinga denounced the police intervention, saying they had “fired knowingly on innocent civilians”.
On Friday morning, in south-west Kenya, a group of Massai killed a Kikuyu (the president’s ethnicity) with a poisoned arrow, local police chief Patrick Wambani told the news agency Reuters.
Demonstrations should end by Friday night, according to Salim Lone, a spokesperson for the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). He added that new forms of resistance are being planned for the future. “The opposition is going to find other means of action, such as targeted strikes and the boycott of businesses belonging to people close to Kibaki,” Salim said, adding, “These last few days have been extremely painful. We have experienced much unnecessary death and suffering.”
On Thursday afternoon, the European Union’s parliament asked that all budgetary aid to the Kenyan government be frozen until the political crisis is resolved. The parliament also demanded that Mwai Kibaki call for new elections if a recount of the ballots is impossible. But, according to Virginie Herz, special Kenya correspondent for FRANCE 24, “the president does not seem remotely bothered by these announcements.”
Kenya, traditionally a calm and prosperous country, has been plunged into violence since the end of December. At least 700 people have been killed, and more than 200,000 displaced, since the beginning of the crisis.