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Kenya

Few heed opposition's call for strike in Kenya

Life on Monday returned to normal in most of Kenya, despite a call for a strike by the opposition. It insists the elections were rigged and refused to concede defeat, raising fears of more violence.

According to DW's correspondent Andrew Wasike business is back to normal in Nairobi. Many shops re-opened after being closed during the tense election period. In the capital and in the western town of Kisumu cars and buses were moving around on streets that had been deserted before the election results were announced on the evening of Friday, August 11. The call for a strike by Raila Odinga has been largely ignored.

Still, according to Wasike, the situation in opposition strongholds such as Kibera, Mathare and Kawangware is still very tense. The streets of Mathare were deserted and most businesses there remained closed. DW talked to one street-seller in Mathare who was relieved to be able to work again. "In the past few days we couldn't work because people were fighting here," she told DW.

A man explained why he adhered to the strike:  "I can't settle. I can't work because I want justice. We are mourning our dead," he told DW.

Protesters burning an election poster depicting opposition leader Raila Odinga

Violence after the announcement of election results left 24 dead

Many dead

Raila Odinga went to the Nairobi slums on Sunday to urge people to stay away from work. One shoe shiner said that he had hardly any business on Monday, seeing this as proof that people heeded the call. "He is powerful. He is a leader and an African figure. When he speaks people have to listen to him," he told DW.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday urged the opposition to avoid violent protests. He also asked that any complaints about the election be taken to court.

But Odinga's National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition has ruled out going to court. It has announced that it will lay out its strategy on Tuesday, August 15th.  This has raised fears of further violence, according to Kenyan human rights activist Samwel Mukira Mohochi. "There is a lot of apprehension on what kind of pronouncement he is going to make tomorrow, Mohochi told DW.

According to the state-funded Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which monitors government institutions, 24 people were shot dead by police in the protests over the weekend, including a nine-year-old girl hit by a stray bullet.

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking at a lectern

President Kenyatta has appealed for calm

Ethnically fraught discourse on social media

President Kenyatta urged the police to use restraint. Human rights groups have criticized security forces for their violent crackdown on protests. The opposition put the number of dead at more than one hundred, but this could not be independently verified.

The dispute has plunged Kenya into its worst political crisis since Odinga lost a 2007 election that many observers agreed was riddled with irregularities. That election exposed decades of political and ethnic grievances over access to power and land. It resulted in two months of violence which left 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced. Human rights activist Mohochi said Kenyans were afraid that similar violence could occur again. Especially because of what is going on in social media. "The comments there are heavily laden with ethnic discourse," he said.

On Friday evening, the election commission declared President Uhuru Kenyatta winner by 1.4 million votes. International observers said the vote was largely fair. A parallel tally by domestic monitors supported the outcome. But opposition leader Raila Odinga is not ready to concede defeat. "There is no turning back now," he said.

Andrew Wasike contributed to this report

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