Alexa

Kenyan police say they have shoot to kill orders, violence continues after vote rigging charge

Kenyan police say they have shoot to kill orders, violence continues after vote rigging charge

Police battled thousands of opposition supporters who charge President Mwai Kibaki stole his way to re-election, and several officers said Monday they had orders to shoot to kill to quell the violence.
The officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals a day after Kibaki was declared winner of last week's vote and sworn in, said the order had divided the police force, saying many officers sympathize with the protesters. Three officers told The Associated Press independently that they had been ordered to shoot to kill, although a government spokesman denied such an order was given.
Meanwhile, the death toll was rising from three days of rioting in Nairobi's slums _ home to tens of thousands of opposition supporters _ and elsewhere in the country, including the coastal city of Mombasa, a tourism hotspot.
The violence has killed at least 34 people since Saturday across the country, police and witnesses said, although the tally was likely far higher. Nineteen of the deaths were in Kisumu, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Nairobi, according to a witness who saw the bodies at the mortuary.
Raila Odinga, the fiery opposition leader who came in second according to the official results, compared Kibaki to a military dictator who "seized power through the barrel of the gun."
Odinga, who had been leading early results and public opinion polls, also postponed a planned rally Monday in Nairobi's Uhuru Park _ where protesters seeking multiparty democracy used to gather in the early 1990s. Police had warned the opposition not to hold the rally. Odinga instead called on 1 million people to gather Thursday.
"We are calling for mass action," said Odinga, who had been leading early results and public opinion polls. "We will inform police of the march. We will march wearing black arm bands."
Kibaki, 76, was sworn in almost immediately after the results were announced. Within minutes, the slums 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."
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. A woman shouted "hungry! hungry!" at passing journalists.
In the coastal city of Mombasa, protesters looted shops shouting "No Raila, No Peace!"
While Kibaki won the presidency, the opposition took most of the parliamentary seats in Thursday's vote.
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.
Kibaki's supporters 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.
The election violence had a disturbing tribal undertone in the slums, where youths shouted ethnic slurs. Kibaki, from the Kikuyu tribe, has been accused of maintaining the tribal patronage system of the Moi years. Odinga is a Luo, another major tribe.
Tribal allegiances have always been a factor in elections in Kenya, where there are more than 40 tribes, and where candidates on the campaign trail are not above appealing to tribe in subtle as well as direct ways. They use phrases like, "It is our time to eat," knowing voters understand that whoever controls the presidency has power to allocate money, jobs and other benefits.
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?"
___
Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy and Tom Maliti contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-06 01:58 GMT+08:00