Riot Police Using ‘Excessive Force’ Break Up Opposition Protest

Demonstrators in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kakamega and Kisumu in western Kenya seeking a new slate of election commissioners were met with an excessive use of violent force by uniformed officers that stunned many Kenyans over its brutality. Smaller groups of protestors were tear-gassed earlier on Monday, according to a report in the Voice of America. Authorities say the demonstrations were illegal. Unconfirmed reports claimed at least three demonstrators were killed, 19 arrested and four others hospitalized. The United States, Kenyan activists and international rights groups have condemned the heavy-handed police action against protestors. U.S. Ambassador Robert Godec used the term “excessive force” to describe the police behavior. “We have received an overwhelming number of casualties from today’s (Monday’s) demonstrations,” said Silas Oluoch, a spokesman for the Siaya County Referral Hospital. “One person died while undergoing treatment, another person died in the streets.”

Police reportedly kept protesters out of the city center by barricading the Kibera slums and blocking leaders of the opposition from the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). The demonstrators have been holding weekly protests to demand a change in the composition of the IEBC, which oversees elections, ensures voter lists are up to date and supervises counting. Its nine commissioners are appointed by the President, confirmed by Parliament and can only be removed from office if accused of gross misconduct or incompetency or via a petition reviewed by the National Assembly. With presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for August 2017, government officials have been urged to take timely measures to avoid a repeat of the ethnic fighting which followed the 2007 vote. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is expected to seek a second and final term in 2017, has been unwilling to consider the opposition demands. “I took an oath to defend the constitution and will not break the law nor allow others to do so.”Janet Otieno Prosper, a local journalist, was one of many who watched the police action on social media. In one clip, a man was being clobbered in Kenya’s capital Nairobi with a police baton. “The police use full force until the man is motionless,” she wrote. “Even after the man falls down and lies still, his body is pummeled with bone jarring knobkerrie as his head rests on the edge of a pavement…  I could not sleep imagining how such a thing could happen in Kenya, of all the nations!” The opposition has vowed to continue until the government engages in meaningful dialogue about the electoral process.

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Posted by on Jun 17 2016. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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