12 August 2017

Kenya's Post-Election Violence Leaves Several Dead

Photo: DW
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga rally in Nairobi

Growing violence across the country comes in the wake of the official announcement that President Uhuru Kenyatta won Tuesday's vote. Post-election violence in 2007 had left more than 1,100 people dead.

Police were blamed for shooting and killing at least two people in the capital Nairobi - including a young child - on August 12 as part of the latest bout of post-election violence in Kenya. Security forces reportedly fired "sporadic shots" at protesters in a bid to break up demonstrations against the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Rioting continued the day after the incumbent president was officially declared the winner of the August 8 vote. There were reports of blocked roads and burning barricades in the capital, Nairobi.

In Kisumu, about 200 miles (325 kilometers) northwest of the capital, another man was reportedly shot dead by police, while at least five more were injured, according to an unnamed regional police commander.

Meanwhile in Mathare, a slum area in Nairobi, police were seen charging at demonstrators firing live rounds and tear gas.

Election monitors, meanwhile, voiced support for the election results as opposition parties maintained the notion that the vote must have been rigged. President Uhuru Kenyatta was officially declared the winner of the election despite ongoing accusations of fraud from the leading opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, who called the election a "charade."

Ethnic and economic divisions

The unrest appears to expose growing divisions across Kenya, where corruption at top levels of governmenthas angered many voters, including those who regard Odinga as a viable alternative to voice their grievances. Tribal loyalty was also seen as a major contributor to these growing social rifts with Kenyatta widely seen as the representative of the Kikuyu people, the country's largest ethnic group, while Odinga is associated with the Luo tribe.

Catholic leaders meanwhile appealed for calm and asked security forces to exercise caution during protests.

"We appeal to them to restrain themselves from using excessive force in handling crowds," said John Oballa Owaa, vice chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. "No life should be lost because of an election."

Election fraud unlikely

The main elections monitoring group, ELOG, announced that its own tally closely resembled the official results. ELOG had posted 8,300 observers on the ground during Tuesday's vote, concluding that Kenyatta had garnered 54 percent, compared with the official figure of 54.3 percent.

"We did not find anything deliberately manipulated," Regina Opondo, the chairwoman of ELOG's steering committee, told a news conference.

Tensions remains high, as the aftermath of the 2007 election remains in vivid memory for many where widespread protests left more than 1,100 people dead amid suggestions that the vote may have been manipulated.

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