23 May 2016

Kenya: Three Killed, 19 Arrested As Police Disperse Cord Protests Against IEBC

Photo: Evans Habil/Nation
ODM chairman John Mbadi and other Cord supporters take to their heels after a tear gas canister was lobbed at them during Cord protests in Nairobi on May 23, 2016.

Three people on Monday died -- including two who had been shot -- while at least 19 were arrested in increasingly violent protests called by the Opposition to drive out the electoral commission.

Medical authorities and police confirmed that nine people were shot, two of whom succumbed, while an unknown number was injured in the rioting which affected nine counties -- Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega, Migori, Homa Bay, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru and Meru. Protests in Kisii went on without incident.

Siaya County Referral Hospital clinical officer Silas Oluoch, said Mr Churchill Odhiambo was shot in the chest while Mr Austine Juma was shot in the head.

He said five patients with bullet wounds were taken to the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital while five others with minor injuries were treated in Siaya.

"We have received an overwhelming number of casualties from today's (Monday's) demonstrations. One person died while undergoing treatment another person died in the streets," he said.

Senator Boni Khalwale was arrested in protests in Kakamega but was later released.

In Nairobi, police kept protesters out of the city centre by barricading Kibera slums, where the bulk of the protesters come from, and blocking Cord leaders from the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Cord leader Raila Odinga was joined by a handful of MPs and Cord co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula, and Kanu Secretary-General Nick Salat in his attempt to drive close to IEBC offices on University Way. Mr Odinga had just returned from South Africa.

DEADLY KISUMU PROTESTS

In Kisumu a man died of a head wound during protests led by MPs Onyango K'Oyoo (Muhoroni) and Aduma Owuor (Nyakach) and which were dispersed by police.

The unidentified man was found lying on the pavement next to Tivoli Centre on Jomo Kenyatta Avenue wearing a blue and black stripped T-Shirt.

He was picked by a passer-by, who accompanied him to Kisumu's Aga Khan Hospital aboard an ambulance.

Dr Sam Oula, the medical director at Aga Khan Hospital confirmed the man, who died before reaching the hospital, had not been shot. "We suspect that he might have banged his head on the ground while escaping the police," said Dr Oula.

A woman is alleged to have been shot in the leg while another person sustained serious head injuries after he was clobbered on the head by riot police.

They were taken to the Kisumu East District Hospital where they are currently admitted.

Police used tear gas to break up demonstrations and lobbed a canister at a pick up carrying journalists from various media houses.

Businesses were closed as the protesters engaged police for more than six hours. Mr K'oyoo accused the police of using excessive force.

"This unnecessary use of excessive force will not deter Kenyans from championing their rights and insisting that a biased referee goes home," he said.

PRISON WARDERS SHOOT RIDERS

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga and Alego Usonga MP George Omondi Muluan condemned the killings and demanded an apology from Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet.

"We will continue with the same next week, a bigger one for that matter," said Mr Rasanga.

Mr Muluan condemned the police for using live bullets in quelling the protesters, arguing that only teargas should have been used to disperse the angry crowd.

"I do not entertain the police brutality on innocent civilians, how can they shoot peaceful demonstrators who were unarmed," he said.

In Migori, five protesters -- all boda boda riders -- were shot by prison warders, after they allegedly attempted to block a Prisons department lorry that was ferrying 50 inmates to the Law Courts off the Migori-Kisii highway.

Regional police boss David Kirui explained: "It was at this juncture that prison officers pulled out their guns and fired at the victims, some of whom were behaving in a manner likely to suggest that they wanted to free the prisoners."

The victims were taken to Migori County Referral Hospital for treatment.

"Some of them have bullets lodged in their stomachs," said a nurse who declined to be named as she is not authorised to speak to the media.

The boda boda riders discounted the police version of the story.

The shooting sparked fresh running battles in the streets between the police and the public.

Cord leader Raila Odinga condemned the deaths and challenged the Jubilee administration to take action against the police.

"I condemn in the strongest terms possible, the horrendous actions of the police during the demonstrations ... innocent Kenyans have been shot by the police and those who did that must be severely punished," he said during the press conference at Capitol Hill in Nairobi.

WOMEN SHOT IN HOMA BAY

In Homa Bay, police shot and injured four women who were admitted at the county's referral hospital.

Ms Dorothy Anyango, 33, Ms Bether Awuor (37), Ms Millicent Atieno (24) and Ms Olivia Atieno (27), were shot at Shauri Yako slum where police were in hot pursuit of protesters.

Nine other demonstrators -- eight women and one man -- were treated in the same hospital for trauma.

County Police Commander John Omusanga blamed the shooting on youths who had engaged security officers in day-long running battles.

In Kakamega, police cornered Senator Khalwale near the Kakamega Law Courts after firing tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Dr Khalwale engaged in an argument with Kakamega Central police boss Richard Sitienei, whom he accused of breaking up peaceful protests.

"You arrest the people who killed businessman Jacob Juma instead of harassing peaceful demonstrators," he added.

In Nairobi, police shot and injured a man in Kibera following a confrontation with the residents who had been blocked from leaving the slum.

Police for the first time blocked the residents from leaving the slum to join protests in the city centre by sealing all exits points at Nakumatt Prestige, Kenya Science Teachers College, Highrise estate and also at the City mortuary roundabout

Mr Shaban Abdulahi 24, a footballer with the Kibera United was shot on the left hand during the confrontation.

He was rushed to the Nairobi Women's Hospital by his family and local leaders where he was admitted in a stable condition.

The shooting sparked protests, with residents blocking roads with burning tires. Some businesses, including banks, were closed but later resumed operations. Security officers at the Kibera Equity bank said they closed for less than an hour and resumed operations.

In Mombasa, County Assembly Speaker Thadius Rajwayi, Junda ward representative Paul Onje and more than 15 people were arrested as the coastal city witnessed its first anti-IEBC protests.

Reports by Zadock Angira, Rushdie Oudia, Joseph Sosi, Nelcon Odhiambo, Maurice Kaluoch, Elisha Otieno and Mohammed Ahmed

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