Kenya: Police Claim Shoot To Kill Orders
Kenyan Police Say They Have Shoot To Kill Orders, Violence Continues After Vote Rigging Charge
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec. 31, 2007
(AP) Police battled thousands of opposition supporters across Kenya who charge President Mwai Kibaki stole his way to re-election, and several officers said Monday they had orders to shoot to kill to quell the violence that has already led to dozens of deaths.
The officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the order had divided the police force, saying many officers sympathize with the protesters. Three officers told The Associated Press independently that they had been ordered to shoot to kill, although a government spokesman denied such an order was given.
Meanwhile, Raila Odinga, the firebrand opposition candidate who led early results and public opinion polls, postponed a planned rally Monday in Nairobi, but called on 1 million people to gather Thursday.
"We are calling for mass action. We will inform police of the march, and we will march wearing black bands," he said.
The death toll was rising Monday from three days of rioting in Nairobi's slums _ home to tens of thousands of opposition supporters _ and elsewhere in the country, including the coastal city of Mombasa, a tourism hotspot.
The bloodshed is a stunning turn of events in one of the most developed countries in Africa, with a booming tourism industry and one of the continent's highest growth rates. Many observers saw the campaign as the greatest test yet of this young, multiparty democracy and expressed great disappointment as the process descended into chaos.
The violence has killed at least 34 people across the country since Saturday, police and witnesses said, although the tally was likely far higher. Nineteen of the deaths were in Kisumu, some 185 miles from Nairobi, according to a witness who saw the bodies at the mortuary.
"All of them had bullet wounds, they were brought in overnight," said the witness, who asked that his name not be used because he feared reprisal. "They were shot."
Kibaki, 76, was sworn in almost immediately after the results were announced Sunday after the closest vote in Kenya's history. Within minutes, the slums exploded into fresh violence.
"We have been rigged out, we are not going to accept defeat," 24-year-old James Onyango, who lives in the Kibera shantytown, said Monday. "We are ready to die and we're ready for serious killings."
An Associated Press reporter saw a man who had been shot in the head being carried in a blanket. The men around him said he had been shot by police and they were taking him to the mortuary. The incident itself was not witnessed by the reporter and police were not immediately available for comment.
Teams of riot police fired shots into the air and tear gas into homes and businesses; in one home, a woman and her four young children ran out, retching.
"We were just hiding from the shots," said Dorothy Nyangasi, frantically pouring water over the eyes of her 6-month-old old son Daniel.
In the coastal city of Mombasa, protesters looted shops shouting "No Raila, No Peace!"
James Mwanyinga said he was walking home from work Sunday night when a bullet hit his leg.
"I didn't know immediately that I had been shot, but I felt a tight grip on my leg and I fell," he said as doctors attended to him at the hospital.
While Kibaki won the presidency, the opposition took most of the parliamentary seats in Thursday's vote.
Elections chief Samuel Kivuitu said Kibaki beat Odinga by 231,728 votes.
But even Kivuitu had acknowledged problems with the count, including a constituency where voter turnout was 115 percent and another where a candidate ran away with ballot papers.
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the chief European Union election monitor, said the Electoral Commission of Kenya "has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates."
Kibaki's supporters say he has turned Kenya's economy int an east African powerhouse, with an average growth rate of 5 percent. But Kibaki's anti-graft campaign has largely been seen as a failure, and the country still struggles with tribalism and poverty.
The election violence had a disturbing tribal undertone in the slums, where youths shouted ethnic slurs. Kibaki, from the Kikuyu tribe, has been accused of maintaining a system of tribal patronage. Odinga is a Luo, another major tribe.
In the Mathare slum, Mercy Akinyi, 20, blamed the election for inciting tribal violence.
"We have coexisted in this slum in peace," she said. "Now that the politicians are fighting, does that mean killing each other?"
Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy and Tom Maliti contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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