Teargas used to disperse Kenyan protestors


Kenyan police fired teargas to disperse hundreds of people who took to the streets to protest the outcome of a regional party primary in the west of the country.

This month’s primaries, where voters choose party candidates, have been a chaotic affair, marked by violent clashes, cancellation of results and claims of rigging.

The problems have raised fears over the planning for the national vote on August 8 and whether there may be further violence in Kenya.

Voters will pick a president, parliament and local authorities, a decade after 1,200 people were killed in ethnic violence following a disputed presidential election.

Tuesday’s protesters were angered by the results of a primary that re-elected the incumbent governor of the Homa Bay county, Cyprian Awiti, to run for the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in August.

At least one person was injured, said Willy Lugusa, the police commander for the region, adding police dispersed protesters to prevent damage to private property.
“We are not using live bullets, we are only using teargas when people are demonstrating in a manner likely to cause the breach of the peace,” he told Reuters.

Neither Awiti nor ODM, led by main opposition leader Raila Odinga, were available immediately for comment.

Contests to lead the country’s 47 local authorities, known as counties, are hard-fought affairs. The winners control annual budgets of billions of shillings.

ODM postponed its primaries in the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday after youths stormed a ballot paper store, claiming they wanted to prevent rigging, a party spokesman said.

The ruling Jubilee party annulled the results of its primary elections in several counties on Friday after widespread protests over shortages of voting materials. The party started repeating them on Monday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is running for a second and final five-year term for Jubilee. The main opposition coalition, bringing together Odinga and four other leaders, is expected to name its candidate later this week.

Macharia Munene, a professor of international relations at USIU-Africa University in Nairobi, said violence in primaries was sponsored by corrupt politicians.
“There is a linkage between corruption and violence,” he said. “Refusing to accept honest results – that’s corruption.”