One person was shot dead and dozens injured yesterday in Kisumu, a city in western Kenya, following a deadly clash between police and opposition demonstrators who were protesting against the current electoral commission.
The slain protester, a water hawker only identified as Mwala, is alleged to have been shot by police after a group of youth attempted to break into Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) offices in Kisumu. Police responded by opening fire.
The irate youth carried Mwala’s lifeless body around Kisumu town, where they engaged police in running battles for the better part of the day. The angry protesters are said to have broken into several businesses in Kisumu town, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
Several other protesters sustained gunshot wounds. Jeremy Otieno, a 6-year-old boy from Manyatta Estate, Kisumu, was allegedly hit by a stray bullet fired by police. He was rushed to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, where the bullet was removed. He is said to be in a stable condition.
As their counterparts in Kisumu were engaging police in ugly riots, opposition protesters in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, held a relatively peaceful demonstration led by former Prime Minister Honorable Raila Odinga.
Addressing his followers at Uhuru Park after demonstrations, Odinga condemned police for using excessive force against protesters in Kisumu and vowed to continue with the protests until their grievances are addressed.
“We are ready to sit down and talk over this matter. Our position, however, is that this commission has lost integrity and cannot be trusted with our 2017 elections. If by Sunday the government will not have come to the table then I declare that from next week we will demonstrate on Monday and Thursday,” Mr. Odinga said.
‘Why IEBC Must Go’
Over the last three years, since the last general election, Kenya’s main opposition alliance Coalition for Reforms and Democracy CORD has been pushing for the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for what they say is incompetence and impartiality of its commissioners.
The opposition maintains that the public has lost confidence in the commission as currently constituted and therefore it should be disbanded and new commissioners put in place ahead of the 2017 general elections.
However, the electoral commission, through its chair Mr. Isaac Hassan, has promised to stay put until due process of removal of its commissioners is followed.
The Kenyan government also insists that opposition leaders calling for the dismissal of IEBC must present a petition to parliament for debate as required by the constitution. However, the opposition is reluctant to go to parliament, where the ruling coalition has the majority.
CORD also accuses the electoral body of manipulating the 2013 presidential election results in favor of the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta.