5 shot dead, several injured in anti-government protests in Kenya

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At least five people were shot dead, several others injured and scores arrested Wednesday in Kenya as police battled opposition protesters who engaged in street protests over the rising cost of living, reported Xinhua.

The three-day protests, called by the opposition Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition Party leader Raila Odinga, started Wednesday and paralyzed normal business in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and other major towns, including Mombasa at the Coast and Kisumu in the western region.

In Nairobi, the city remained deserted, shops were closed and transport was paralyzed as citizens kept off the central business district for fear of violence.

The city was literally at a standstill as police engaged in running battles with protestors who lit bonfires and blocked roads in some parts of Nairobi, in particular opposition bastions Mathare and Kibera slums.

The government on Tuesday suspended commuter train services in the city and asked students to stay at home as it prepared to battle protestors. The move was a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of school children, said Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki.

Besides Nairobi, primary and secondary schools were also closed in Mombasa and Kisumu counties. In Nakuru, one of the areas that witnessed violence Wednesday, at least four people were shot, with two of them dead. Three others were shot dead in Makueni in eastern Kenya, Kisumu in the western region and in Nairobi's sprawling Mathare slums.

Anti-riot police engaged rowdy protestors in the regions, who threw stones at the police as they countered by lobbying tear gas canisters to disperse them. Transport services were completely disrupted in the areas.

The opposition resumed anti-government protests on July 7 after having suspended earlier protests in May to pave the way for talks with the government. On July 14, the opposition coalition called for three-day continuous protests starting Wednesday citing public demand. Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, who belongs to the Azimio coalition, said the opposition would not relent with the protests.

Martha Karua, one of the top leaders of the Azimio alliance, accused the police of arresting several opposition legislators and holding them incommunicado. Karua called for the unconditional release of the leaders and supporters who had been arrested by the police. The coalition said it would resume demonstrations Thursday morning as had earlier been announced as it termed Wednesday protests a success.

On Tuesday, the Inspector-General of Police Japhet Koome outlawed the protests across the country, noting that no one had been permitted to hold demonstrations.

"In line with police mandate to maintain law and order; protect life and property and maintain peace, we wish to inform the public that any demonstrations that would be held in any part of Kenya will be dealt with in accordance with the law," Koome said.

Under the Kenyan constitution, however, neither the police nor other government officials have the authority to outlaw protests.

  •  Kenya
  •  Protest

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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