Kenya: At least four feared dead as demonstrations rocks Kisumu city

31st Mar 2013

By Robert Manyara, Chris Mgidu and Njoroge Kaburo


NAIROBI, (Xinhua): At least four people are feared dead following demonstration that broke out in Kenya’s third biggest city of Kisumu late on Saturday shortly after the supreme court verdict announced that it had upheld the victory of Uhuru Kenyatta which was challenged by PM Raila Odinga.


The demonstrations emanated from a somber mood that followed the ruling but later degenerated into a running battle with the police as the angry members of the public engaged the police with stones and other crude weapons.


The demonstrators stoned motorist smashing car windows and barricaded roads with boulders and bonfires. Trouble started after the police tried to stop the demonstrators from barricading the road and destroying properties.


Western Kenya Red Cross Regional boss Emmanuel Owako confirmed the shooting of four saying they were critically wounded. He said the injured had been rushed to the hospitals.


Locals however alleged that the four other people were killed but the police denied the killing. Kondele local police chief, Johnstone Wanyama said nobody was killed so far in the demonstration.


The demonstrators torched and looted properties in the residential estates as they battle with police in running battles in the streets of the busy city.


Local leaders tried in vain to plead with the demonstrators who were chanting “No Raila, No peace” and they demonstrations along the busy Kisumu-Busia road.


Two hours into the demonstration several shops, and properties believed to be those of opposing political sides went up in flames even as police maintained that they will contain the situation.


Local leaders led by county representative, Paul Achayo said the demonstration was not political but aimed at looting properties. The demonstration paralyzed business across the city with supermarkets, pubs and other social joints rushing to close.


Despite calls to maintain peace, the demonstrators chanted songs against president-elect Kenyatta saying it will not be peace without justice.


“Without justice there will be no peace, if the court wants to violate the constitution, we will do it further, let the two have parallel government,” said some of the demonstrators.


Apart from Kisumu, other towns in western Kenya experienced relative calm with somber mood witnessed across.


In central Kenya and parts of northwest region, jubilant supporters of president-elect Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have welcomed the verdict by the Supreme Court to struck a petition challenging the presidential results.


The supporters thronged to the streets of Eldoret and Kapsabet towns in northwest Kenya which is a major stronghold of Ruto to celebrate the rejection of the petition by Cord presidential candidate Raila Odinga.


The supporters burst to songs and dances after the Supreme Court uphold the decision by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to declare Kenyatta as the winner of the March 4 elections.


“It is good ruling and we welcome it. The court decision has eased tensions and will help the country to move forward,” said former lawmaker Joshua Kuttuny, a close ally of Ruto.


Singing and dancing in praise of president elect Kenyatta and Ruto, were also witnessed in central Kenya where the supporters termed the ruling as landmark and justified verdict.


Excited at the ruling, the supporters lauded the six Judges led by the Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga for delivering the best and fair judgment and it will settle down tempers among Kenyans.


“We expected such judgment. It is a fair and the verdict is a win to Kenyans,” said Jose Kipkemboi. The supporters urged the Cord leadership to join hands with the jubilee government to address economic woes facing Kenyans.


In Western Kenya, coastal region and some parts of Nairobi, Odinga supporters differed with the Court decision to uphold Kenyatta victory claiming that the polls were marred with irregularities.


“We know the polls were not properly conducted according to the constitution and it is improper for the Supreme Court to validate Kenyatta victory,” said a disappointed Evan Jaola.


The move comes as British and U.S. diplomats called on Kenyans to peacefully accept the verdict of the Supreme Court.


The two countries, Kenya’s main development partners, had avoided directly congratulating President elect Kenyatta since his elections but have expressed congratulatory messages to the people of Kenya for a “peaceful elections”.


Following the decision of the Kenyan Supreme Court to uphold Kenya’s recent election results, British Prime Minister David Cameroon wrote to President-elect Kenyatta to congratulate him and all others elected.


“The Prime Minister wrote to President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta today. He congratulated the President-elect and all others elected in Kenya’s elections, upheld today by the Kenyan Supreme Court. He stressed that this represented the end of a remarkable process, in which more Kenyans than ever before turned out to vote,” said a statement from Cameron’s spokesman.


Cameron urged the Kenyan people to be proud of the strong signal they have sent to the world about their determination to exercise their democratic right peacefully. He encouraged all Kenyans to continue this spirit of peace and accept the decision of the court as final.


“The Prime Minister stated that the Kenyan people had made their sovereign choice, and resolved disputes through the rule of law and the strong institutions of the Supreme Court and due Constitutional process,” the statement said.


He welcomed Kenyatta’s commitment that his new government will work with all Kenyans in a spirit of inclusivity and reconciliation, and that the government of Kenya will continue to meet its international legal obligations.


“The PM also underlined his strong commitment to the partnership that exists between Kenya and the UK. He described the relationship as deep and historic, with a substantial shared agenda of stability, security, development and prosperity that benefits both our countries.”


Editor: Zhu Ningzhu


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