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Protests as Kenya's president begins 2nd term after allegations of rigging, deadly violence

Protests as Kenya's president begins 2nd term after allegations of rigging, deadly violence

Several people were shot in Nairobi's slums Monday as trucks of heavily armed police tried to contain demonstrators following the re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.
Kibaki, 76, was sworn in almost immediately after the results were announced Sunday. Within minutes, the slums _ home to tens of thousands of opposition supporters who believe the election was rigged _ exploded into fresh violence.
"We have been rigged out, we are not going to accept defeat," 24-year-old James Onyango, who lives in the Kibera shantytown, said Monday. "We are ready to die and we're ready for serious killings."
Kibera resident Selina Angeyo, 14, said police had shot her brother in the stomach along with another man. Her brother had been taken to a hospital. Shortly after she spoke to reporters she was arrested and taken away, crying.
An Associated Press reporter saw a man who had been shot in the head being carried in a blanket. The men around him said he had been shot by police and they were taking him to the mortuary. Neither incident was witnessed by reporters and police were not immediately available for comment.
Teams of riot police fired shots into the air and tear gas into homes and businesses; in one home, a woman and her four young children ran out, retching.
"We were just hiding from the shots," said Dorothy Nyangasi, frantically pouring water over the eyes of her 6-month-old old son Daniel.
Other residents said that they had not been able to find food since shops closed for elections on Thursday and trouble began over the delayed vote-counting.
"This place is just in tatters. We used to have food and shops here," said father-of-two Bernard Ichodo, standing in the smoking ruins of the marketplace. Supermarkets in other parts of town have also been closed for fear of looters, and he had only been able to find two meals _ of bread and mangos _ in the past four days. Another woman shouted "hungry! hungry!" at passing journalists.
Raila Odinga, the firebrand opposition candidate who had been leading early results and public opinion polls, rejected the results and was planning a ceremony to be declared "the people's president" later Monday in Nairobi's Uhuru Park _ where protesters seeking multiparty democracy used to gather in the early 1990s.
Police banned the event, and hundreds of riot police were deployed around the park.
The bloodshed is a stunning turn of events in one of the most developed countries in Africa, with a booming tourism industry and one of the continent's highest growth rates. Many observers saw the campaign as the greatest test yet of this young, multiparty democracy and expressed great disappointment as the process descended into chaos.
Odinga said the dispute could trigger a political crisis and compared the country to Ivory Coast _ the once stable West African nation where a 2002 coup sparked a civil war.
Elections chief Samuel Kivuitu, who read the results on live television after other media were expelled from the main vote headquarters Sunday, said Kibaki beat Odinga by 231,728 votes in the closest race in Kenya's history.
But even Kivuitu had acknowledged problems with the count, including a constituency where voter turnout was 115 percent and another where a candidate ran away with ballot papers.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the chief European Union election monitor, said the Electoral Commission of Kenya "has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates."
Kibaki was sworn in almost immediately after the results were announced, standing with his hand on the Bible in a serene ceremony at State House as his wife Lucy and dignitaries looked on.
"We have done our nation proud and set a good example for the rest of the continent," Kibaki said. "With the general election now behind us, it is time for healing and reconciliation among all Kenyans."
But even some people who voted for Kibaki had suspicions.
"I'm happy that Kibaki has won the election. I voted for him and wanted him to win," said Macharia Mwingi, 42, a taxi driver in the capital. "But I'm not ruling out election rigging."
Earlier Sunday, Odinga had called on Kibaki to concede and demanded a recount, saying the electoral commission "cannot possibly address the multiple levels of fraud administered by this administration."
Kibaki's camp accused Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement of being behind the violence.
Supporters of 76-year-old Kibaki say he has turned Kenya's economy into an east African powerhouse, with an average growth rate of 5 percent. He won by a landslide in 2002, ending 24 years in power by the notoriously corrupt Daniel arap Moi.
But Kibaki's anti-graft campaign has largely been seen as a failure, and the country still struggles with tribalism and poverty. After the opposition took most of the parliamentary seats in Thursday's vote, Kibaki will likely find great tests in uniting this country during his second five-year term.
Any attempt at reconciliation was absent in the slums, where tribal clashes raged and youths shouted ethnic slurs.
In the Mathare slum, Mercy Akinyi, 20, blamed the election for inciting tribal violence.
"We have coexisted in this slum in peace," she said. "Now that the politicians are fighting, does that mean killing each other?"
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Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Tom Maliti and Tom Odula contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-19 12:09 GMT+08:00