Two protesters were killed and at least six injured during anti-government demonstrations in Kenya. The country’s opposition has been protesting every Monday against an alleged bias of Kenya’s electoral commission.
It was the fifth Monday, that Kenya's opposition rallied in major cities to protest against the country's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and its alleged bias towards Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling Jubilee Coalition. In the city of Kisumu, the political stronghold of opposition leader Raila Odinga, two people were shot dead during clashes between protesters and police. According to the Red Cross, six protesters suffering gunshot wounds were taken to hospital.
"We cannot have police shooting people every other time they are exercising their rights," one protester told news agencies. Another Kisumu resident said: "Last time they shot someone dead and claimed he suffered injuries as he was falling down. What will they say today after the death of this man because he was clearly shot?"
In Nairobi, the protests largely remained peaceful, but opposition lawmaker, Johnson Muthama announced that the opposition would step-up its protests if the government does not meet their demands: "We give them another two weeks. If they don’t respond positively we are going to make it four days a week. And thereafter it will be seven days a week. We will sit on the roads, we will sleep on the roads," he warned.
Ahead of Kenya's elections in August 2017, the opposition coalition CORD, had demanded a change in leadership and a reform of the electoral commission. On Friday, opposition leader Odinga met President Kenyatta to discuss the matter, yet the negotiations failed and the opposition leaders vowed to hold further protests every Monday.
Kenyans want peace
Away from the protests, Nairobi residents voiced their concerns over the ongoing spat between Kenya's two biggest political alliances. "I think that the government should come clear, so that they can solve this issue once and for all," one resident told DW. "They're creating a lot of tension, because if we’re fighting now, what about when the elections come," another pedestrian noted.
The focus should be on peace and reconciliation, many Kenyans added, as many of them recalled the ethnic violence that broke out after the elections in 2007. And one Nairobi resident noted that ethnic tension had by no means disappeared. "There is a lot of tribalism. That needs to stop. And I think our leaders that are making [it worse]," he told DW.
Kenyan police had initially banned the protests and warned that they were prepared to use force against the protesters. Kenya's High Court on Monday however said that the protests were legal.
Kenya's government last week condemned the protests, saying that the opposition should voice their demands through constitutional means, which would include filing a petition on the matter in parliament. Meanwhile the electoral commission denied any bias.
James Shimanyula contributed to this report.