Nairobi – Kenyan police fired teargas on Tuesday to disperse thousands of opposition supporters gathering in central Nairobi to celebrate the planned swearing-in of opposition leader Raila Odinga.
Odinga says he, and not President Uhuru Kenyatta, is the country’s rightful leader.
Odinga lost an Aug. 8 presidential election that was nullified by the Supreme Court, and boycotted a repeat poll on Oct. 25, saying it would not be free and fair.
President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term in November after winning the repeat presidential election in October that Odinga boycotted due to doubts it would be free and fair.
Kenyatta had also been declared winner of the August election, but the Supreme Court later nullified that result, over irregularities.
Odinga said the October election was “fake” and earlier said a “people’s assembly” would swear him in on Dec. 12.
That did not happen, and a new event was planned for Tuesday.
By 0600 GMT, about 400 people were gathered in Uhuru Park, near Nairobi’s main business district.
Though the police had said they would prohibit any illegal assemblies on Tuesday, there were no uniformed police in the park and no anti-riot officers or vehicles.
NAN reports that Violence erupted after the re-election of Kenyatta on on Aug 13, 2017, leaving at least 24 people dead nationwide, a rights group said.
The victims included a 9-year-old girl, according to the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
Relatives said the victims were shot dead in various parts of the nation, including 17 in the capital of Nairobi, the group said.
Allegations of vote-rigging have sparked concerns, with some Kenyans fearing ethnic clashes similar to those triggered a decade ago.
Though Kenya’s last election in 2013 was mainly peaceful, the country plunged into widespread violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote.
No fewer than 1,000 people were killed in months of bloodshed following the 2007 election after Odinga — defeated by then-President Mwai Kibaki — claimed the vote was rigged.
Protests and violence broke out after he was declared the winner.
Most of the demonstrators were supporters of Odinga, who has rejected the results of the presidential election, calling the vote rigged. National election officials have decried the accusations, saying the vote was free and credible.
Police said protests erupted in and around Kisumu, a stronghold of Odinga.
One person was killed overnight in Kisumu.
Violence also broke out in Nairobi’s slum of Mathare, where tear gas and gunshots rang out all night, witnesses said. (Reuters/NAN)