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Young man shot dead during Kenya opposition protest: witness

File Photo: Kenya opposition protest

Kisumu, Kenya | AFP | A young man was shot dead in western Kenya on Monday as hundreds of opposition supporters again took to the streets demanding reforms ahead of a presidential election, witnesses told AFP.

Police teargassed a large crowd of protesters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, who set tyres alight, blocked roads and pelted policemen with rocks as they kicked off daily protests just 10 days ahead of the election.

One protester, Michael Odiambo, 21, said he had seen police gun down a young man, whose body was also seen by an AFP photographer.

“He was running to hide himself from police. A policeman just pointed a gun at him and shot him from a distance. He was shot in the neck,” he said.

The boy’s mother Caroline Okello said her son, Michael, was only 18 and was not involved in the protest.

“He had gone to buy ice cream when he was hit by a bullet,” she said. Some witnesses said they believed he was selling ice cream, rather than buying it.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said police had allowed protesters to rally in the centre of Kisumu, despite this being banned last week.

“And when they realized police are not intervening, they started throwing stones at the police. What do you expect of that. Aren’t police allowed to also protect themselves?”

On Friday two protesters were shot dead by police in the town of Bondo, the rural home of opposition leader Raila Odinga some 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kisumu. In Nairobi, a small crowd of protesters was swiftly dispersed.

A local human rights group said 37 people died in the immediate aftermath of the August 8 election that was later annulled by the Supreme Court which ordered a re-run.

A joint report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released Monday said it had confirmed 33 deaths at the hands of police.

Kenya’s police chief Joseph Boinnet said this report was “totally misleading and based on falsehoods”, adding police were only aware of 12 deaths which they were investigating.

The latest protests come as Kenya is mired in confusion over a presidential election that is due to take place on October 26.

Odinga last week announced his withdrawal from the race, arguing that this legally forces the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to begin the whole election from scratch.

He is hoping to win more time for reforms, after the Supreme Court annulled the first election for irregularities in the counting process and mismanagement by the IEBC.

But the IEBC appears to be pushing forward with plans for the vote, saying only that Odinga had yet to submit the required form to officially pull out of the race.

Odinga is hoping to maintain pressure from the street, increasing protests from three times a week to every day.

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