Thursday, January 17, 2008

Today's Headlines - 1/17/2008

Protesters Clash With Police in Kenya for Second Day
NY Times
Published: January 18, 2008

NAIROBI, Kenya — The Kenyan police seemed to be ratcheting up the pressure against demonstrators and others on Thursday, the second day of opposition protests, arresting several journalists who were photographing street clashes and shooting tear gas at civilians in efforts to clear out neighborhoods.

In Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city and an opposition stronghold, the police squared off once again with stone-throwing mobs who said they were furious about last month’s flawed election in which Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, won by a wafer-thin margin.

A freelance photographer for The New York Times and a Japanese photojournalist who were covering the street clashes were detained for several hours and accused by police of instigating the violence. They were released without charges on Thursday afternoon.

Tensions have risen since a Kenyan television crew on Wednesday filmed a police officer in Kisumu killing an unarmed demonstrator. After the disturbing footage was aired, many opposition supporters vowed to take revenge.

In Kisumu, police fired tear gas at passers-by, yelling at them to clear the streets and stay inside their houses.

There was also reports of ethnically-driven fighting in the slums ringing Nairobi, the capital, on Thursday.

Police officials defended the heavy use of force and said that mobs carrying gasoline had been sighted in Nairobi’s business hub on Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, police abruptly shut down the central business district and chased out thousands of office workers, beating some of those who did not move fast enough.

Full story from NY Times

Kenyan opposition accuses police of killing seven

Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:58pm EST
By C. Bryson Hull and Nick Tattersall

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's opposition accused police of killing seven people on Thursday during a second day of clashes with demonstrators protesting against President Mwai Kibaki's disputed re-election.

In the capital Nairobi, and the western towns of Kisumu and Eldoret, police fired teargas and bullets during rallies called by opposition leader Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), but banned by police. More protests are planned on Friday.

Odinga, who accuses Kibaki of stealing victory in the December 27 ballot, said police shot dead seven people in the capital.

"Police are shooting innocent civilians at will ... the government has turned this country into a killing field of innocents," he told reporters.

Police had no immediate comment. ODM member of parliament Elizabeth Ongoro Masha said her driver was among those killed by officers who surrounded part of the Mathare slum overnight.

"They were targeting people perceived as being group leaders," she told Reuters.

Witnesses saw three wounded men carried into a hospital in another Nairobi slum, Kibera. One died from gunshot wounds to the neck, doctors said.

In the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, a witness said police shot dead two men and a woman. Relatives of a 10-year-old boy shot on Wednesday said he had died in hospital.

Three other people were killed there on Wednesday, including a youth seen shot and then kicked by a policeman in footage on local KTN television.

Police said they were attacked first, but there was growing criticism from human rights organizations and others of police tactics.

Full story from Reuters

Three killed in western Kenya clashes
AFX News Limited

NAIROBI (Thomson Financial) –

Kenyan police said three people were killed in clashes with protesters today in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu, on the second consecutive day of protests against the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

'The two young men who were killed were part of the demonstrators and they started hurling stones at the officers. That is when officers fired at them,' said a senior officer who requested anonymity.

'A stray bullet killed a woman in her house near Otonglo area,' another commander added.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who claims Kibaki robbed him of the presidency in the Dec 27 election, called for three days of protest rallies this week after international mediation efforts failed to break the deadlock.

Police said a total of seven people had died since the demonstrations began yesterday.

More than 700 people were killed in nationwide unrest after the widely-contested presidential poll.

Full story from Forbes

Taped Shooting Of Protester Rattles Kenya

Violence Again Breaking Out Across Country As Tribal, Political Tensions Boil Over

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan. 17, 2008

Riot police beat an opposition supporter, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008 during riots in the Mathare slum, Nairobi, Kenya. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)

Photo Essay
Violence Grips Kenya
Slum dwellers square off with police on second day of opposition protests.
· Showdown Looms In Kenyan Parliament
· Kenya Tries To Get Back To Normal

(CBS/AP) Violence has again engulfed Kenya, after television video showing police shooting a young, unarmed anti-government protester to death enraged opponents of President Mwai Kibaki. According to opposition leaders, at least seven more people had been shot and killed in the Mathare slum early on Thursday, and a 5-year-old boy in the Kibera slum was wounded in the leg, CBS News reporter Katherine Arms reports. Both sprawling slums are in Nairobi. Anger is high across the country after the scenes of vicious violence from the town of Kisumu aired on local the private Kenya Television Network.

Full story from CBS News

6 Killed in Second Day of ODM Protests

The Nation (Nairobi)
NEWS17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008

Six people have been shot dead in the second day of clashes between the Orange Democratic Movement supporters and riot police.

One person was shot in Nairobi’s Mathare slums while five others were killed in Kisumu. All of them died from gunshot wounds.

The protests entered the second day as the ODM leadership said the party would not relent in its calls for mass action until they get justice following electoral flaws that saw President Kibaki declared winner of the December 27 presidential poll.

Several supporters have come out to join the ODM demonstrations across towns in Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley, Nairobi and Coast provinces.

Full story from Daily Nation on AllAfrica

Police Under Fire Over Live Rounds

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
NEWS17 January 2008
Posted to the web 17 January 2008 Nairobi

Human rights activists in Kenya have dismissed as meaningless police plans to launch an inquiry into the use of live rounds during protests against December's controversial presidential elections.

On 16 January alone, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), five people were shot dead in the western city of Kisumu during attempts by supporters of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to stage a rally.

Local television footage from the city showed a policeman pursuing two unarmed protesters, shooting them at close range and then kicking one of them before walking away. One of the men reportedly died.

"We are inquiring to know why [live bullets were used]. We have opened an inquiry so the truth may come out," Grace Kaindi, the police commander of Kisumu, told IRIN.

Full story from the UN's IRIN on AllAfrica

Kenya 'turned into killing field' - [Opposition Leader Odinga]

(BBC) – 1/17/2008

Nairobi's Kibera slum was a centre of police operations Shots leave man dead

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has accused the government and the police of turning the country into "killing fields of the innocent".

His Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) said seven people were shot dead in Nairobi on the second day of protests against elections it says were rigged.

Police denied Mr Odinga's claim that they were "on a killing spree" and said they were acting "with restraint".

EU politicians have meanwhile urged it to cut aid to Kenya's government.

Full story from BBC

'Emotions running high in Kisumu'
(BBC) – 1/17/2008

The BBC's Karen Allen is in the western opposition stronghold of Kisumu, where four people were killed on Wednesday. Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme, she said there were unconfirmed reports that two more people had been killed on Thursday morning:

I'm in the compound of a family who have just buried their 13-year-old boy who was caught up in yesterday's clashes - his name is Saleem Ahmed.

We've just moved to the place where he was buried on the family plot. There are very high emotions as you can imagine among family members, but also among other people.

Full story from BBC.

Kenya’s score in human freedoms declines

[NB: Author's name is from Luo ethnic group; can this reporter be unbiased?]
Daily Nation
Publication Date: 1/17/2008

Kenya is listed as one of the countries in the world experiencing reversals in human freedoms.
A survey done last year by US-based organisation Freedom House, groups Kenya alongside Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt and Venezuela as countries which had faired poorly in the advancement of freedoms compared to the previous year.

Freedom House says Kenya experienced a significant decline in political rights and slight drop in civil liberties last year.

It rates Kenya as partly free, meaning that the country still needs to make more improvements to be considered completely free.

“The deterioration within Nigeria and Kenya, two of Africa’s most important countries, should be of great concern for those who had hoped that the incremental gains of recent years would continue,” the document adds.

The report entitled Freedom in the World 2008, cites political manipulation of ethnic tensions and intolerance by African leaders as important factors in the decline of a number of countries, including Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

Mali and Niger registered declines in civil liberties, while in East Africa, Somalia’s already low score declined even further.

Full story from Daily Nation

NB: All headlines and excerpts taken from links on right sidebar: International News Sources

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