The death toll from violence in Kenya triggered by the result of this week’s presidential election that saw President Uhuru Kenyatta returned to power has risen to more than a dozen, including children, according to human rights and community groups.
Most of the clashes have occurred in the slums of Nairobi. These are predominantly strongholds of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has rejected the election as a sham and accused the electoral commission of falsifying the results, albeit without producing any evidence.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, which put the death toll at 24, said 17 of the killings occurred in, Nairobi, with most of the rest in western Kenya, another Odinga heartland. Data from community groups working in the Nairobi slums put the death toll at about a dozen with scores injured. The Associated Press quoted an official at the capital’s main mortuary as saying nine bodies had been brought in from the Mathare slum in east Nairobi.
Mr Odinga’s National Super Alliance (Nasa) coalition said on Saturday that more than 100 people had been killed in the unrest and that the government was engaging in “state terrorism” by dumping the bodies in secret locations. Again it gave no evidence to corroborate its claim.
Kenya, one of Africa’s most vibrant democracies, has a history of election-related violence. Mr Odinga believes he was robbed of victory in both the 2007 and 2013 elections through manipulation during the tallying process. Unrest after the 2007 vote resulted in 1,200 deaths.
Violence began this week on Wednesday, the day after voting, when the electoral commission’s provisional results indicated Mr Kenyatta was heading for victory. It intensified moments after Mr Kenyatta was officially declared the winner on Friday evening. He won 54.3 per cent of the vote compared to Mr Odinga’s 44.7.
On Saturday Elog, an independent local election monitoring group, said the result of its parallel vote tally conducted at 1,692 of the 40,833 polling stations came up with broadly the same results as the electoral commission.
“From our findings we didn’t’ find anything that was deliberately manipulated,” said Josephine Mong-ane, an Elog executive.
Fred Matiang’i, the acting interior minister, said the vast majority of the country was peaceful and there had been no deaths in political demonstrations. He blamed the violence on “criminal elements [who] have attempted to take advantage of the situation to loot and destroy property”.
“Those people are not demonstrators, they’re criminals and the police should deal with them as they deal with criminals.”
Mathare was calm but tense on Saturday afternoon. Some people picked among the ashes of freshly razed kiosks; burnt tyres, rocks and other debris lay strewn across roads and hundreds of visibly angry people had gathered on the streets.
“The police started the trouble here,” said one man, Solomon. “They came in this morning and started shooting aimlessly — bullets and tear gas. We were in peace.”
Among the casualties, people said, was Stephanie Moraa, aged 8, who was shot dead at 10.30am while playing on a third-floor balcony, according to her uncle, Dennis Onjolo. “They shot her from about 100m away,” he said. “She was hit once in the chest but they fired many shots. What did she do wrong?”
Many people said they would not protest until Mr Odinga told them what to do. “Why doesn’t he speak? Why doesn’t he tell us what to do?” said Collins Dhiambo.
International observers and Nairobi-based diplomats have urged Mr Odinga and Nasa to address their grievances through legal channels. On Saturday, James Orengo, a senior Nasa official, said filing a legal challenge was “out of the agenda”. He declined to say what the coalition would do but said it had a “cocktail” of constitutional alternatives, without giving details.