One man died and six were injured as Kenyan police opened fire on an anti-government rally on Monday in the western city of Kisumu, witnesses said.
The violence occurred as the opposition CORD alliance resumed weekly protests aimed at seeking a shake-up of the country’s electoral commission, which they accuse of bias. A bullet wound was visible on the corpse, which was laid outside a hospital morgue by protesters, who said he was hit when police opened fire.
There was no immediate response from police. The Red Cross said six protesters had been taken to hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.
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“This is not fair. We cannot have police shooting people every other time they are exercising their rights, this man has been shot dead while protesting,” said protester Michael Omondi.
“Last time they shot someone dead and claimed he suffered injuries as he was falling down. What will they say today after the death of this man because he was clearly shot?” another Kisumu resident, Charles Otieno, said.
Protests organised by the CORD grouping began in April to force a change of leadership at the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of presidential polls due next year.
The protests were briefly suspended late last month to allow for talks with the government but resumed on Monday. Nairobi’s police chief Japheth Koome warned over the weekend that police were prepared to use lethal force if necessary.
“No demonstration. That’s the message. If you have nothing else to do, sleep. It will not be allowed,” Koome told the BBC.
“That’s why I’m questioning those who have intentions of demonstrating… Don’t come, then you start talking about police brutality. Life is dear! Please, if you value your life, don’t attempt it that way. You will be dealt with firmly.”
However, the High Court said on early Monday that the protest was deemed legal. CORD leader Raila Odinga has blamed the commission for his defeat in 2013 by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Next year’s August election is shaping up as a replay of 2013, with 71-year-old Odinga again aiming to unseat Kenyatta, 54.