Kenyan police is under fire for allegedly using excessive force against opposition protesters who had gathered outside Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s offices at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi to demand for its disbandment ahead of the next general election in 2017.
No sooner had the opposition leaders, among them Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, started to address the crowd of protesters did the police descend on them with teargas canisters, water cannons and batons.
A melee ensued as everybody scampered to safety, leaving many protesters injured. Opposition leaders were quickly evacuated from the scene by their bodyguards as their supporters engaged police in a running battle for the better part of the afternoon.
Riot police officers were caught on camera indiscriminately beating people alleged to be participating in the protests.
Nairobi Governor Dr. Evans Kidero was quoted by Capital FM condemning yesterday’s violence, saying it undermines the gains made by Nairobi as the city to invest in.
Investors thrive in an environment where they have confidence that the rule of law will be upheld and their properties will not be looted or destroyed, Kidero said.
Social Media on Fire
Many Kenyans have taken to social media to condemn the brutality meted out on protesters by the Kenyan police yesterday.
— #NjihiaKelvin (@njihiakelvin) May 17, 2016
The was further escalated later following reports that a young man who was captured on video being senselessly attacked by a police officer had died. #JusticeForNgatia has been trending for the better part of the day as Kenyans demand for action to be taken against the police officer.
Some Kenyans claim it was a case of mistaken identity, adding that the young man, identified as Ngatia, was not part of the protests.
— Muchunguh (@muchunguh) May 17, 2016
Latest reports also say another man was shot in Kibera, Nairobi as a group of youths in the Nairobi slum attempted to uproot a railway in protest of allegations that Kenyan police shot at Raila Odinga’s car during the afternoon protests.
Fifteen suspected protesters who were arrested were arraigned in court where they were charged with unlawful assembly, causing disturbance in a manner likely to cause breach of peace, and participating in public demonstrations while armed with stones.
They however denied the charges and were released on bond of 50,000 shillings or a cash bail of 3,000 shillings each. Their case will be heard on 21 July, 2016.
Pressure on IEBC Officials
Since the last general election in 2013, Kenya’s main opposition party CORD has been demanding for the disbandment of the current electoral body IEBC, accusing its commissioners of corruption and bias.
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has promised to continue piling pressure on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission saying that it is not fit to hold the next elections, in 2017.
However, the commission’s officials have vowed to stay put, challenging the opposition to use the required legal process to eject them from office.