•Refuses to concede defeat
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga called yesterday for a strike to support his claim to the presidency and accused the ruling party of “spilling the blood of innocent people” as he brushed off growing pressure to concede election defeat.
The election commission on Friday declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of the presidential poll by 1.4 million votes. International observers said Tuesday’s vote was largely fair and a parallel tally by domestic monitors supported the outcome, Reuters reported. But Odinga’s NASA coalition insists that the whole vote was rigged, and that Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee party has conspired with security forces to crush dissent.
Odinga doubled down on his attacks in a speech to 4,000 cheering supporters in Kibera, Nairobi’s biggest slum. “Jubilee have spilt the blood of innocent people. Tomorrow there is no work,” Odinga told the crowd, which chanted back “Uhuru must go”. He promised to announce a new strategy tomorrow.
Senator James Orengo, one of Odinga’s chief supporters, said the opposition would call for demonstrations. “When we people call you to action, peaceful action, don’t stay behind,” he told the crowd. He also called for a boycott of Nation television and newspapers, Kenya’s largest independent media group, over their coverage of the disputed elections.
The rally, Odinga’s first public appearance since Thursday, made clear he has no plans to renounce his claims of victory despite calls from the international community for him to concede.
Police and protesters clashed repeatedly in Nairobi’s slums on Saturday. Presidential spokesman Manoah Esipisu laid the blame at Odinga’s door. “The violent protests are unlawful,” he said in a statement. “The police will not tolerate breaches of the peace. Instead they will protect the lives and property of Kenyans, and they will restore law and order.”
After Kibera, Odinga went to Mathare, another Nairobi slum, to see the family of an eight-year-old girl killed, according to a witness, by a stray police bullet. Police have confirmed the death and said they are investigating.
As Odinga left Mathare, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of his supporters, who had climbed trees and rooftops to get a glimpse of their hero. Reuters said itsreporters have seen police repeatedly fire tear gas and live rounds to disperse crowds of people in slums.
Police have also detained and attacked journalists. At least 24 people have been killed in election-related unrest so far, a rights group said on Saturday, including the girl in Mathare.
The Kenya Red Cross said on Saturday it had treated 93 injured people. Yesterday was largely peaceful, to the relief of Kenyans who fear a repeat of the ethnic carnage that followed 2007’s disputed vote.