28 June 2012

Kenya: Demonstrators Leave Coffins At Parliament's Gate

Nairobi — A group calling itself "Kenya Ni Kwetu" left mock coffins at the gates of Parliament, in a demonstration "to bury years of impunity," charging political rulers of corruption and calling for change ahead of elections due next year.

Around 200 protestors left 49 coffins - marking the number of years of Kenya's independence from British colonial rule - at the Parliament building and waved placards with slogans such as "Wanted: leaders who pay taxes."

"We have a present for MPs : 49 coffins for 49 years of impunity in this country," said Boniface Mwangi, a photographer and demonstration organiser.

"We need young Kenyans to vote and know who they vote for," he added.

Kenya has been mired in multiple corruption scandals since independence in 1963, but despite political promises to crack down on graft, high level suspects have seldom faced justice.

"For quite a long time, we had leaders who exploited us," said Edwin Ochieng, a demonstrator in the peaceful protest, where there was a small uniformed police presence. "We ask for an accountable leadership."

Kenya is due to hold the first general election since deadly post-poll violence fours years ago in March 2013.

"We want a peaceful ballot revolution," one placard read. "Wanted: competent leaders," read another.

Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabir met the demonstrators outside Parliament buildings and told them to take advantage of the freedom guaranteed by the current Constitution.

"This is your right. During the previous tenure you could not demonstrate, you could have been forcefully dispersed. We now have a say as earlier the country had its owners," Shabir said.

The country is in preparations for highly contested general election with new elective seats that were created with the current Constitution.

AFP contributed to this report

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