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KENYA: Police teargas protesting Odinga supporters

HUMPHREY MALALO and AYENAT MERSIE

KENYAN police fired teargas and water cannons at stone-throwing supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga on Monday during a second week of protests against the government and high food prices, with one person shot dead in the western city of Kisumu.

The clashes broke out as Odinga’s convoy passed through the Kawangware neighbourhood in the capital Nairobi, Reuters reporters said. Hundreds of supporters had gathered around the convoy, shouting “Ruto must go,” in reference to President William Ruto.

Odinga, who lost to Ruto in last August’s election, is seeking to channel frustrations about stubborn inflation into a durable movement against the president. He has vowed to press ahead with biweekly protests – every Monday and Thursday – despite police banning the demonstrations.

In Kisumu, close to Odinga’s ancestral home, one person was shot dead during the protests, a worker at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital said, without saying who did the shooting.

“His body was dumped outside of the hospital,” said the worker, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media. Alphonse Wambua, Kisumu County police commander, said he was unaware of anyone who had been shot dead.

The Independent Police Oversight Authority will investigate five incidents across the country in which officers are said to have injured protesters and killed one in Kisumu, the government police watchdog said in a statement.

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In Nairobi’s Mathare slums and in Kisumu, police officers clad in riot gear used tear gas against protesters who were hurling stones at them, footage on Kenyan television station NTV showed.

A Reuters witness reported little activity in Nairobi’s central business district, with many shops remaining closed amid a heavy police presence ahead of Monday’s planned gatherings.

Ruto has accused Odinga of trying to stir up chaos in a country with a history of political and ethnic violence, often around elections. Odinga denies this.

In separate incidents on Monday, unidentified people vandalised a property belonging to Odinga’s family and another owned by former president Uhuru Kenyatta, who supported Odinga in last year’s election, Kenyan media reported.

Dennis Onyango, Odinga’s spokesperson, said he believed the government sent the attackers.

Riot police officers lob teargas canisters to disperse supporters of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Azimio La Umoja (Declaration of Unity) One Kenya Alliance, as they participate in a nationwide protest over the cost of living and President William Ruto’s government in Kibera district of Nairobi, Kenya March 27, 2023. REUTERS/Brian Otieno

Later on Monday evening, fire was seen burning sections of Kenyatta’s property, according to footage from Citizen TV.

Spokespeople for the government, police and Kenyatta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Odinga, a former prime minister, has lost five presidential elections in a row. He challenged the most recent result before the Supreme Court, which upheld Ruto’s victory.

During last week’s protests, a university student was killed when police fired live rounds after running out of tear gas canisters and blank rounds, according to an internal police report shown to Reuters by a police source.

A police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment about the report.

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During and after those protests, police arrested more than 200 people, including lawmakers belonging to Odinga’s faction in both houses of the parliament.



By The African Mirror

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