Kenyan riot police beat youth in the streets of Mathare amid the second day of anti-government protests on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008. (BBC Photo).
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Story by CHURCHILL OTIENO
Kenya Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/18/2008
Six people have been killed in the third day of opposition protests as former UN chief Kofi Annan announced he will arrive on Tuesday for renewed mediation efforts.
At the same time, President Kibaki named a team of ten to spearhead dialogue out of the political crisis following the December 27 contested presidential election.
Today was the last day of three-day protests called by the Orange Democratic Movement in search of justice over alleged vote rigging that saw President Kibaki handed a second term.
The third day of protests were felt most in parts of Nairobi, Narok and Mombasa.
Four people died after being shot with arrows in Narok, while police shot dead two in Nairobi and one in the coastal town of Mombasa.
In Narok, one of the dead men was unlucky when he ran into a group with crude weapons.
“The man bumped into a group of armed residents who shot him with a poison arrow," Narok area police boss Patrick Wambani told Reuters.
The riots in Mombasa started soon after the Friday Muslim prayers ended at 1pm resulting in one shot dead and three seriously injured from bullet wounds.
In Nairobi, two were shot dead in the sprawling Kibera slums. Police confronted a mob that was removing parts of the railway line and shot a 15-year-old girl in the back and a man in the head.
The city’s central business district was mostly peaceful but tense. There were with brief moments of running battles as riot police dispersed some Muslim faithful who attempted to demonstrate towards Uhuru Park after coming from Friday prayers at Jamia Mosque.
On the mediation front, President Kibaki appointed a team led by Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka to help in the dialogue.
A dispatch from the Presidential Press Service said a top-level political committee had been formed to spearhead “national political dialogue, national reconciliation and to promote international understanding and good relations on the political problems facing the country following the recently concluded elections”.
Other members of the committee are Security Minister George Saitoti, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula, Finance Minister Amos Kimunya, Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Transport Minister Chirau Mwakwere, Justice Minister
Martha Karua, Attorney General Amos Wako and Mbooni MP Mutula Kilonzo.
The statement said the tenth member will be co-opted by the committee as appropriate.
The President also named two joint secretaries for the committee. They are Mr Ludiko Chweya, a senior political science lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and Mr Geoffrey Gichira Kibaara, the director of legal affairs at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Additional reporting by Reuters.
Kenya protesters to mount boycott
Security forces have been patrolling Nairobi's Kibera township
Kenya's opposition says it will change tactics to protest against the outcome of last month's presidential election, following three days of mass rallies.
The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says it will now boycott companies run by allies of President Mwai Kibaki.
Some 600 people have died in violence since the poll. In the latest unrest, police killed a protester in Mombasa, while another was wounded in Nairobi.
Kenya's National Commission on Human Rights has also cast doubt on the vote.
At a news conference in Nairobi, the state-sponsored body listed a catalogue of irregularities in the tallying and announcement of results, including turnouts of more than 100% in some constituencies.
At least 360,000 votes could not be verified, the commission said. About 230,000 separated the two candidates.
The official results have outraged supporters of ODM candidate Raila Odinga, who has demanded a re-run.
27 December: Presidential and parliamentary elections
30 December: President Kibaki declared winner, triggering widespread unrest
10 January: First international mediation effort fails
16-18 January: three days of mass opposition rallies
ODM spokesman Salim Lone told the BBC that from next week, the opposition would switch to other forms of action, such as boycotts of companies run by what he called the government hardliners.
He mentioned specifically the Brookside Dairies, Equity Bank, and City Hopper bus services as possible targets for action.
The ODM has been holding a third and final consecutive day of nationwide protests on Friday.
In Mombasa, police clashed with a group of Muslims who tried to march through the coastal city after Friday prayers in protest at the election results.
The city's police commander, Wilfred Mbiti told the AFP news agency that his officers used live bullets to quickly disperse the crowd, killing one protestor and injuring at least five others.
Meanwhile in Nairobi, police confronted opposition demonstrators in the Kibera slum for a third consecutive day after more than 600 youths tore up a section of railway track running through the centre of the area.
One of the protesters is reported to have been shot in the leg after the police fired tear gas, blank rounds and some live rounds over the heads of the crowd.
Fresh incidents of ethnic violence were also reported overnight.
Police said one man had died from machete wounds in the Nairobi slum of Mathare.
A police commander in the town of Narok told AFP that Maasai youths had killed a member of President Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe with a poisoned arrow.
At least 11 people died as police clashed with protesters on Wednesday and Thursday.
Mr Odinga said police were turning the country into "killing fields of the innocent, executing at will in an unprecedented bloodlust".
Officials denied the charge, saying the police response had been restrained.
"The Kenyan police are acting within the laws of this country," police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said.
Moses Kuria, a senior official from Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity (PNU), told the BBC there had been no serious irregularities in the vote.
"We should follow due process, and we should respect institutions that have taken 40 years to nurture," he said.
Public demonstrations were banned by police immediately after Mr Kibaki's swearing-in on 30 December.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is due in Kenya soon to start a mediation process between Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga.
Two members of his team - former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa and Graca Machel, wife of ex-South African President Nelson Mandela - have already arrived in the country.
The European Parliament unanimously backed a resolution on Thursday calling for the EU to suspend aid to the Kenyan government.
Meanwhile, the UN has launched a $34m (£17.3m) appeal for Kenya to help those affected by the recent unrest, in which a quarter of a million people have left their homes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/01/18 13:53:50 GMT
Business paralysed and schools closed as more youths protest
Story by NATION Team
Publication Date: 1/18/2008
Business in Mwatate and Voi towns was Thursday paralysed the whole afternoon as police clashed with several hundred demonstrators who had responded to the ODM call for mass action.
The Orange Democratic Movement had called for three days of mass action countrywide to protest at what they claim to be the rigging of the December 27 elections in favour of President Kibaki. The protests began on Wednesday.
In Voi, police officers led by deputy OCPD John Leshimpiro, confronted area Member of Parliament Dan Mwazo who was leading about 50 people to Moi Stadium for the rally.
As Mr Mwazo argued with Mr Leshampiro, some businesspeople closed their premises and joined the march, causing the crowd to grow to about 300.
Mr Leshimpiro on realising things were getting out of hand, ordered his officers to disperse the crowd with tear gas.
Vented their anger
In Mwatate, police fired eleven times in the air and hurled five tear gas canisters at demonstrators who were heading to Kamukunji grounds.
The group of about 200, and whose number was growing by the minute, was led by Mwatate MP Calist Mwatela.
The angry youths rushed back to the town and vented their anger on a miraa (khat) stall, razing it to the ground.
They were dispersed before they could torch more stalls as police reinforcements were called in from Wundanyi.
Speaking ahead of the rally, Mr Mwatela said area DC Kang’ethe Thuku tried to persuade him to call off the march.
“I told the DC that I do not take instructions from him and that as Kenyans we have a right to assemble and discuss issues affecting us,” he said.
Mr Mwatela said he had followed the law and informed the police of the rally. By the time of going to press, youths had blocked roads in the town and were burning old tyres.
In Mombasa, most schools remained closed while several others recorded poor pupil turnout due to fears of clashes between police and protesters.
Primary schools including Star of the Sea, Ganjoni, and Mvita were open but only a few pupils showed up.
“The school is open, the teachers are around but most pupils did not come,” said Evans Mwachia, the headmaster of Mvita primary, adding that normal learning could not continue.
Other schools are reported to have advised parents to keep children at home until next week when the mass action is expected to have come to and end.
Mombasa Town and its environs remained peaceful most of Thursday morning with no demonstrations reported.
There was heavy police presence particularly in Bangladesh where a group of people had threatened to march to the town centre. But they were confined to the slum and gave up their mission.
Public service vehicles operated as usual while most businesses in the town and the suburbs remained open.
It had been feared that confrontations that marked the start of the three-day demonstrations on Wednesday in different parts of Mombasa were going to continue.
The secretary-general of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Sheikh Mohammed Dor, had said Mombasa residents would hold peaceful demonstrations every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to press for justice over the allegedly flawed presidential elections.
Separately, a women’s group in Buxton estate in Mombasa Thursday prepared a sumptuous pilau lunch for local youths to thank them for not participating in the post-election violence.
Buxton Beautiful Women group feted more than 100 youths to encourage them to shun violence and be role models.
Edna Mbura, the group’s organising secretary, said they appreciated the stand taken by the youth and wanted to encourage them to be peaceful and to refuse to be used by politicians to cause chaos.
Reports by Amina Kibirige, Patrick Mayoyo, Jonathan Manyindo and Pascal Mwandambo
Tale of killer bullets in Kisumu
Story by COSMAS BUTUNYI and WALTER MENYA
Publication Date: 1/18/2008
Theatre of the absurd by police was captured by TV cameramen as a trigger-happy officer snuffed out the life of hapless Olago Junior who had joined others for a peaceful protest in Kisumu.
Olago, who was killed on Wednesday, was not armed, not even with a stone. But he was never to return home alive.
Although the right to peaceful assembly is one of the cornerstones of democracy and is enshrined in Chapter Five of Kenya’s Constitution, the police bullet stood in the way for Olago Junior.
A police officer brandishing an AK-47 rifle charged at him and his friends as they danced and made faces, shooting him dead and injuring his friend on the shoulder.
Kisumu, a stronghold of ODM leader Raila Odinga, who accuses President Kibaki of stealing the December 27 poll, has suffered the worst police brutality. More than 70 people have been killed in the town, most of them shot dead by police. Six have been killed in the latest round of protests.
Rights groups have blamed this on what they call a shoot-to-kill policy by the police and use of live ammunition against protestors.
One of the casualties succumbed to bullet wounds at Bandani Estate.
The woman whose name was given as Judith Namukuru was reportedly killed by a bullet that teared through her tin-walled shanty. Her eight-year- old daughter who was also in the House was unhurt.
Other demonstrators were shot in Otonglo area on Kisumu-Busia road, which became the main battleground for the better part of the day.
Protestors lit bonfires on the road as they engaged police in running battles.
Commonwealth and other observers have described the elections as failing to meet international standards. The killing of Olago was brought right into the living rooms of Kenyans and the world by TV cameras. After the killing, the police officer then turned to his wounded friend and kicked him even as he writhed in pain besides Olago’s lifeless body.
Manyatta area, which served as Olago’s home, was sealed off by police Thursday.
Once again, the killing has brought into sharp focus what human rights agencies have described a shoot-to-kill order being implemented by police in Kisumu and elsewhere against unarmed Kenyans.
People who knew Olago said he did menial jobs in the lakeside town to survive.
Journalists who tried to venture into the crowded Manyatta estate were threatened with dire consequences.
Beyond the horrifying pictures of perceived brutality are families counting losses of their loved ones who were also felled by bullets. By Thursday, the toll had hit six.
The perception that death could be met only in the streets is also becoming a myth as residents recount tales of women and children being hit by bullets at home.
Ms Rosa Akinyi was hit by misfortune for the second time since the controversial polls. She lost her husband in circumstances that were strikingly similar to those that led to her brother’s death earlier. Both were felled by bullets in Manyatta estate during the post-election protests.
While her brother was shot dead in the first round of skirmishes that rocked Kisumu immediately after the announcement of election results, her husband died on Wednesday as the three-day mass action called by ODM kicked off.
Rosa fought back tears as she recounted her last moments with George Odunga, the father of her nine-year-old son.
After taking lunch with his family, which turned out to be their last meal together, she says Mr Odunga left home. He returned about three hours later and ventured out to visit a relative who lived nearby.
Not long after he left, gunshot fire rent the air. She would later learn that one of victims was her husband.
According to Mr Odunga’s friend, Esau Ochir, who was with him when he was shot, they had been chatting with some friends when a contingent of police officers arrived in a van.
They alighted and split in two groups of three officers each.
“They began shooting at whoever they saw in sight and so we took off,” he explained.
As they fled, he added, the officers shot at them, and as fate would have it, one of the bullets caught Mr Odunga, killing him instantly. His body was taken to the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital mortuary, where his brother-in-law’s body has been lying for the past two weeks.
Mr Ochir says as they were taking Mr Odunga’s body to the mortuary on a hand cart, they encountered a seriously wounded victim.
They lifted him onto the cart and dropped him off at the hospital’s casualty department before proceeding to the mortuary.
As the Odunga family mourns, only a few metres away in the same estate friends and relatives of 10-year-old Salim Ahmed are also in mourning.
The Standard Four pupil at Obinju primary school in Kisumu was also felled by a policeman’s bullet on Wednesday.
His mother, Mrs Halima Ali, says Salim was shot as he played with a friend a short distance away from the house.
Mrs Ali said she was at home when she was alerted that her son had been shot. On rushing to the scene, she found the boy lying in a pool of blood.
His body was carried back to their house, where it stayed overnight. It was transferred to the Nyanza Provincial General Hospital mortuary Thursday for post-mortem before burial later in the day.
Bitterness was evident in the mother’s face, as she narrated events leading to the death of her son.
“Police who were pursuing protesters started shooting indiscriminately without establishing who the protesters were,” she said amid sobs.
Mrs Ali claims police also lobbed tear gas canisters into their house.
“We voted for peace but it seems like that was our worst mistake, with police killing innocent people who know little about politics,” Mrs Ali said.
Salim’s friend who was with him at the time of the shooting escaped with no injuries. He was, however, still in shock and was yet to come to terms with the death of his friend.
The boy could barely speak to journalists who visited their house. Manyatta Estate seemed to be the worst hit in Kisumu.
Apart from the two deaths, many walls bear bullets marks, a testimony of the trigger-happy nature of the police.
Police should re-think mob control strategy
Publication Date: 1/18/2008
It is now quite clear that in certain instances the police are employing excessive force in handling the protests called by ODM over the disputed presidential election results.
Police denials ring hollow in the face of an incident broadcast on television showing two young unarmed men gunned down.
Police shootings in the circumstances recorded are totally unacceptable. There must be a clear distinction between use of reasonable force as a method of enforcing law and order, and what can only be cold-blooded murder.
The shootings in Kisumu, in particular, and anywhere else where live ammunition has been used, call for an inquiry of no less importance than any investigation that will be necessary to establish the killings and evictions in the Rift Valley and elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, it is time the police and other relevant organs stepped back and re-thought the strategy of using force to block opposition rallies.
It is apparent, for instance, that since the ODM programme of nationwide protests resumed on Wednesday, areas where the police exercised restraint, peaceful demonstrations passed without too many violent incidents.
Shouldn’t the authorities start considering whether the blanket ban on rallies and use of force to disperse all gatherings are themselves contributing to the perennial violence?
One cannot argue with the fact that the police are mandated to ensure security and maintain law and order, and that it is sometimes necessary to employ force.
But the laws are also clear on the instances when lethal force may be used. Indiscriminate use of tear gas, batons and, more seriously, gunfire, is clearly not allowed and goes against all the safeguards built into the laws and regulations.
Perhaps now is the time to take a serious look at the emerging patterns and impose strict curbs on the mode and level of force that the police may use against demonstrators.
We could go further than that, even, and propose that the authorities lift the curb on opposition rallies. The police could allow the protests and be on standby only to ensure that the peace is maintained, intervening, again only with reasonable force, only where there is a direct and serious threat to security, law and order.