Nairobi, Kenya | AFP |
Kenyan police fired tear gas and beat opposition demonstrators with truncheons Monday to stop them storming the offices of the electoral commission to demand its dissolution.
Hundreds of protesters were prevented from reaching the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Some of the demonstrators threw stones at police.
There have been several such protests in recent weeks.
Surely @JBoinnet this is just an innocent civilian caught up in the chaos. pic.twitter.com/rxX3FxJxhG
— lizzie ntonjira (@lizzientonjira) May 17, 2016
Kenyan demonstrators calling for election reform are subjected to horrific violence https://t.co/vwNN1E5zqy pic.twitter.com/PMmTCja0tv
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) May 16, 2016
Protests were also held in other Kenyan towns, including Kisumu and Kisii in the southwest, with police there firing tear gas to break up the crowds, local media reported.
“Police are using unnecessary excessive force on peaceful demonstrators, they are not justified at all,” said former prime minister Raila Odinga, promising to hold protests every Monday.
Odinga, who lost his latest bid for the presidency in 2013, accuses the electoral commission of being biased towards President Uhuru Kenyatta.
He has demanded that a new slate of commissioners be named ahead of the next election in August 2017.
The windscreen of Odinga’s own car was damaged during Monday’s protest. He later said he was not inside the vehicle at the time.
Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinet denied rumours that police had fired on the car.
Police spokesman George Kinoti said only teargas had been used to disperse the protesters, stressing that “no live bullets were used”.
Kenyatta beat Odinga by more than 800,000 votes to win the presidency in 2013.
Odinga and civil society groups have accused the electoral commission of a series of irregularities that they said skewed the results.
Visiting the victims of police brutality in various hospitals across the city; we catered to their medical expenses. pic.twitter.com/d4fvv05qlb
— Raila Odinga (@RailaOdinga) May 16, 2016
The election nonetheless passed off peacefully, in contrast to the country’s disputed 2007 elections which degenerated into fierce inter-ethnic violence that left more than 1,100 people dead after supporters of Odinga, who is from the Luo people, challenged his defeat by Mwai Kibaki, a Kikuyu.
The next election in August 2017 is shaping up as a rematch of the 2013 election, with 71-year old Odinga expected to try to unseat Kenyatta, 54.
President Kenyatta recently organised a meeting with several party faithful to discuss the possibility of reorganising the electoral commission.