Police use “strong arm” tactics to disperse demonstrations

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Demonstrator waves CS gas cannister used by police

Roundup

A defiant Raila Odinga said today that he was prepared to work with Mwai Kibaki’s government but not under him and called for the government to set a new date for elections.

“We are going to keep up the pressure from every legal angle and through all peaceful means until the government agrees to acknowledge that the election results were false and that a solution must found to the political crisis,” Odinga spokesman Salim Lone told The Associated Press.

“The rallies will show the government that the people of Kenya will not allow the theft of the election to stand.”

Human Rights Watch in Washington described the police action to quell demonstrations as a “Shoot to Kill” policy. Police denied the accusation saying that they were acting strictly within the laws of Kenya and police spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said, “In fact, some of the complaints we are receiving are from property owners that police failed to use all the powers under the laws to protect their property.”

In Kisumu, where the worst of the violence has been seen, Eric Otieno, a mechanic said, “There’s been war since the morning,” said Eric Otieno, a mechanic in Kisumu. “The police are whipping women, children, everyone.”

“Our president Raila says we are going to demonstrate for three consecutive days, and that is what we are preparing to do, whatever the cost,” protester Emmanuel Omondo said, in front of dozens of youths around burning tyres in a Kisumu outskirt.

“We want Kibaki to resign and pave the way for our rightful President Raila Odinga,” said demonstrator Joel Oduor in Kisumu, coughing and crying from teargas.

“At the moment, they have lit bonfires in some parts of the city but we do not want to provoke them yet,” said Michael Barasa, a police officer in Nyanza province in western Kenya.

“One man was shot in the back as police were trying to disperse about 1000 youths who were trying to to gather here,” a police commander said
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Kisumu – demonstrator shot by police receives treatment

Three youths were shot in the back of the leg as they tried to run from officers in the sprawling Nairobi slum of Kibera, one of Africa’s biggest, a hospital administrator said

“It was so crowded, a very narrow place. I was trying to escape and I got a bullet in my leg,” one of the three, 18-year-old student Oscar Junior, said from his hospital bed.

“The wounds were fairly minor, but it seems that police have been going through crowds attempting to break up demonstrations before they start, and using live bullets and tear gas as they do so,” said Rob Crilly, the Times correspondent in Nairobi.

In Mombasa: “They are beating us up and using teargas against innocent people,” said Khalid Hussein, of the local Muslims For Human Rights group. “Let them kill us but we will not stop.”

Police broke up a group of some 300 opposition supporters shouting “”No Raila, no peace, Kibaki must go” as they marched on Eldoret in the west, where women and children were burnt alive in a church in previous post-poll clashes.
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The late Kibaki

One cardboard banner read: “Kibaki rest in peace, in a coffin, buried alive.”
The protesters rapidly gathered again, forming a group of some 1,000 before police fired teargas to disperse them, an AFP correspondent said.

“We are having a problem in Eldoret and Nakuru because the youths keep on re-grouping,” said Everett Wasige, a police commander in the Rift Valley, scene of many recent clashes.

Kenya Human Rights Watch

Georgette Gagnon, acting Africa director at Human Rights Watch, has called on the Kenyan government to hold accountable those within the ranks of its forces for the human rights abuses.

“Kenyan security forces have a duty to rein in criminal violence and should protect people, but they shouldn’t turn their weapons on peaceful protestors. The government should make it very clear that police will be held accountable for using lethal force against people for simply expressing political views.”

Human Rights Watch has criticised the apparent “shoot to kill” policy by demanding that Kenyan police follow the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which state that law enforcement officers must apply non-violent methods when at all possible, leaving force as a last resort and only in proportion to the offence committed.

“The government should defuse tension by immediately lifting the ban on public assembly and allowing the planned demonstrations to go ahead,” said Gagnon.
“The right to peaceful assembly is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy.”

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