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Demonstrators for Electoral Reform in Kenya Injured in Clashes With Police


Opposition supporters block streets and burn tires during a protest in Kisumu, Kenya, on Oct. 11, 2017. Supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga took to the streets as poll officials mull their next move after his withdrawal from an upcoming presidential election.

At least 17 people have been admitted for injuries sustained Wednesday in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu, Kenya, as demonstrators demanding electoral reform clashed with police. Police deny using live bullets.

Lucas Otieno, a 24-year-old boat welder, says he was caught in the demonstrations in Kisumu, in western Kenya, on his way to work.

“Before I got to my place of work, I met police officers at the bridge. They started throwing tear gas, then people started running,” Otieno said. “I stopped at the market then I felt pain, I touched and then I saw blood.”

A bullet hit his genitals and lodged in his groin, he said.

Father angered by son's injuries

Otieno's father, Moses Odingo, was angered by his son’s injuries.

“We cannot have a situation where you just shoot aimlessly at helpless people who are not involved in the demonstrations,” Odingo said. “Kisumu now has become like the Wild West where people are learning to shoot.”

Opposition supporters clashed with police in the Kondele area in Kisumu County.

Families of the injured and protestors have accused the police of using live bullets to quell the riots. An accusation denied by the police.

In the main hospital in Kisumu, few doctors and nurses are available to attend to the injured, some of whom had been here for hours without treatment.

Eric Odhiambo, who sells second-hand clothes, said police assaulted him at his place of work.

“I was hiding in my shop. Police were chasing some of the demonstrators and they realized someone was hiding in the shop,” Odhiambo said. “They entered and started beating me with a baton. They broke my left hand, and I have not got treatment. I was told to come back tomorrow.”

Odhiambo was one of the dozens of injured waiting for treatment at the biggest hospital.

Opposition supporters hold up bricks as they block streets and burn tires during a protest in Kisumu, Kenya, on Oct. 11, 2017.
Opposition supporters hold up bricks as they block streets and burn tires during a protest in Kisumu, Kenya, on Oct. 11, 2017.

Serious injuries

Dr. Juliana Otieno works at the Jaramogi Odinga hospital. She said they have received patients with serious injuries.

“There were 23 (patients) by 6:30 p.m., three were gunshot, the rest were other injuries,” Otieno said. “They were treated, one or two were still to go to the theater (surgery). They were being prepared. The ones with the gunshots were the ones who were supposed to go to the theater (surgery).”

Political tensions continue to climb in Kenya ahead of the rerun presidential election on Oct. 26.

Opposition supporters took to the streets of major cities Wednesday to demand that electoral officials, who were blamed for irregularities in the August election, step down immediately.

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses a crowd of his supporters in the Kibera area at an election rally in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 12, 2017.
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses a crowd of his supporters in the Kibera area at an election rally in Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 12, 2017.

Odinga pulls out

On Tuesday, opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga pulled out of the October polls, citing grievances with the electoral commission and President Uhuru Kenyatta's ruling party.

The opposition has vowed to continue with the protest till their demands are met.

Opposition supporters say they will take to the streets for more demonstrations.

But for Lucas Otieno, the welder, a long night awaited him at the hospital, as doctors prepared to remove the bullet. He likely has a long road to recovery ahead.

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