Near a railway track in Nairobi’s Kibera slum, at least a thousand supporters gathered Sunday afternoon to hear remarks from Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga, who recently lost the hotly contested presidential race to incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
But Odinga and his NASA coalition members say that the election was ‘stolen’ from them, and reiterated that position to the enthusiastic crowd.
“We’ve come here to say sorry, sorry, sorry for what happened here yesterday and the other day,” said Odinga. “They want to steal our victory, and again they come to kill our people. That is what is called ‘impunity’ in English.”
Kenya’s presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu disputes these claims.
“The president won this election fair and square, both international and local observers have attested to that point,” said Esipisu. “There are really valid voices, right from John Kerry, from the U.S., to President Mbeki, of South Africa, all saying that the process was fair. And so at this point, there really isn’t much more to say, beyond that fact. And I think we are a democratic country, we have a democratic tradition, obviously there is a legal process that we encourage everyone to follow should they be aggrieved.”
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights released a statement Saturday that 24 people had lost their lives since the day after the August 7th election and that they were a result of police using live bullets in opposition strongholds, like some Nairobi slums and areas of western Kenya like Kisumu, Homa Bay, Migori and Siaya.
Although it does not release casualty figures, the Kenya Red Cross stated that as of Sunday morning, it had responded to 117 people with various injuries since August 8th.
Kenya’s acting Cabinet secretary for the interior Fred Matiangi told Kenyans Saturday that the police “always act according to the law.”
“But individuals or gangs that are looting shops, that want to endanger lives, that are breaking into peoples’ businesses, those are not demonstrators. They are criminals. And you expect the police to deal with criminals how criminals should be dealt with,” said Matiangi.
Opposition on violence
The opposition holds a different view.
“They spilled the blood of innocent people, they’ll pay for the blood that they spilled,” said Odinga.
NASA coalition member and Siaya senator James Orengo attempted to clarify when it was his turn at the microphone.
“All we want is justice. We want peace but we want peace with justice,” said Orengo.
The opposition has urged supporters to not go to work on Monday and wait until Tuesday for further “directions.” They also blamed some local news outlets for not telling the truth and urged a boycott of certain newspapers and television stations.
Celebrations and protests erupted Friday night, after electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that Kenyatta had won the election with 54.27 percent of the vote, beating Odinga’s 44.74 percent.