Kenyan Opposition Says Five Killed as Election Protests Resume

  • Cord party threatens to intensify weekly demonstrations
  • Three others killed in same region during a march last month

Kenya’s main opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy accused the police of shooting dead five people in the western city of Kisumu during protests to demand electoral reforms.

“At least five have been shot dead as of now, it could be higher,” party spokesman Dennis Onyango said by phone from the capital, Nairobi. The demonstration in Kenya’s third-biggest city will continue as it has been declared “legal and legitimate,” he said. Calls to police spokesman Charles Owino didn’t connect when Bloomberg sought comment.

The party’s supporters marched on all but one Monday in the past month to demand the resignation of officials at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission over alleged corruption. At least three people were killed during one of the demonstrations when police fired at protesters, according to media including Nairobi-based broadcaster Citizen TV.

A Kenyan court assented to Monday’s rallies after the police had threatened to use force to end the protests. The party has demanded police accord demonstrators adequate security. 

“The law is on our side, we are doing this for the rights of Kenyans,” Moses Wetangula, one of Cord’s top leaders, told reporters in Nairobi. “The court order is a great victory for us. There are elements in government who were trying to use courts to sanitize their activities.”

Street Marches

Cord has said it plans to double the frequency of weekly protests in the next two weeks should the government fail to agree to negotiations on electoral reform. President Uhuru Kenyatta says the opposition should use parliament to eject the commissioners, not street marches.

With presidential elections scheduled for August 2017, the clashes have evoked memories of the political and ethnic conflict that erupted in Kenya after a disputed vote in 2007 and claimed at least 1,100 lives.

The turmoil threatens to destabilize Kenya’s $61 billion economy, one of a handful in sub-Saharan Africa that’s booming as it benefits from low oil prices, a steady exchange rate and slowing inflation. Last month, Dennis Awori, chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, a business lobby group, warned that the protests were damaging the country’s image and scaring tourists away.

The shilling was unchanged against the dollar at 101.05 by 2:38 p.m. in Nairobi trade, after weakening in the past two sessions.

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