Police used life ammunition to suppress protesters in a second day of demonstrations to protest what they believe were fraud and irregularities in the recent presidential election in Kenya.
On the first day of the demonstrations, the AP reported that “Police firing tear gas and bullets halted protests Wednesday, blocking mass rallies the opposition hoped would show the power behind their demands for the president to step down. At least two people were fatally shot by police. Opposition leader Raila Odinga called for three days of protests after violence that killed more than 600 people and international mediation failed to move President Mwai Kibaki. Observers say the vote tally from the Dec. 27 election was rigged. ‘We will go the extra mile for democracy. We are ready for bloodshed’, said Philomen Bett, a teacher in the western city of Eldoret … Riots and ethnic killings after the disputed vote have marred Kenya’s image as a stable democratic oasis in a war-ravaged region and damaged its tourist-dependent economy. The violence has also aggravated ethnic tensions and conflicts over land. The United Nations, meanwhile, launched an appeal Wednesday for nearly $42 million to help half a million Kenyans affected by the violence. UN humanitarian chief John Holmes said the money was needed to provide food, shelter, health care and other services for the next six months. ‘We are appealing for this to cover the needs of some half a million — 500,000 people who have been affected by the violence’, he told a news conference. Police had declared Wednesday’s protests illegal. In Nairobi, helmeted riot police on horseback chased small clusters of protesters from skyscraper-lined streets downtown. Businesses shut as tear gas was fired, and thousands of panicked office workers in suits and high heels streamed away on foot … In Kisumu and Eldoret, thousands of rowdy young men massed, first marching peacefully. As the crowds grew, police lobbed tear gas canisters, forcing them disperse. They regrouped, and police then fired live rounds, clearing the streets. ‘The police are overreacting. People are just demanding their rights’, said one of the wounded, 26-year-old Dominic Okoth, in Kisumu, where burning tires blocked roads and sent columns of acrid smoke into the air. Thirteen nations, including the United States and Britain, increased pressure on politicians to find a solution, threatening Wednesday to cut aid to the government ‘if the commitment of the government of Kenya to good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human rights weakens’. Foreign and local election observers have said the vote count in the election was deeply flawed. Although the electoral chief pronounced Kibaki the victor, he later said he had been pressured to do so and did not know who won. U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, speaking by telephone hookup Wednesday from Kenya to a conference at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington think tank, said a power-sharing arrangement was “the only thing to do,” but that it would not be easy to persuade Kibaki and Odinga to agree … The ambassador ruled out a new election. ‘Neither side has the money for it’, he said”. This AP report is posted here.