Tension in Kisumu as youths stage riots

Monday July 7 2014

By MOSES ODHIAMBO
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Rowdy youths lit bonfires on major highways of Kisumu town on Monday in what they claimed was a show of solidarity with fellow Cord supporters gathered at Uhuru Park.

Tension was high in the lakeside town with several shops remaining closed for fear of being raided. Only banks and major supermarkets were open, although they were cautious of possible raids.

There was a heavy police presence in the town both on the streets and on air.

There were pockets of violence in Kondele, Kibuye Market and Kamas centre with the youth saying they were only waiting for a declaration from the Cord leaders gathered at Uhuru Park.

The rioting youths chanted slogans of ‘No Dialogue No Peace’.

Administration Police officers remove burning tires lit by a mob on Jomo Kenyatta highway, near Kibuye market, in Kisumu on July 07, 2014. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI

Administration Police officers remove burning tires lit by a mob on Jomo Kenyatta highway, near Kibuye market, in Kisumu on July 07, 2014. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI

Anti-riot police doused bonfires that had been lit by the rowdy mob.

Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds, where Cord leaders had instructed their supporters to gather for the Saba Saba prayers, was cordoned off by anti-riot police.

Kisumu’s main bus park was also deserted, with only few vehicles ferrying passengers travelling short distances within western Kenya.

Vehicles that normally ply Kisumu-Naiobi route lay idly packed.

Kondele Police boss Johnstone Wanyama led police officers in putting off some of the bonfires that had been lit by the rowdy youth.

While addressing residents, Mr Wanyama said they will ensure no shop is looted.

“We will ensure no business is interfered with. Our advice to residents is that they must not engage in any form of violence,” said Mr Wanyama.

Some of the hotspots of the town including Nyalenda, Kachok, Jua Kali and Car wash had youths grouping in preparations for the match to Jomo Kenyatta Sports.

“We had been told to go to the grounds and hold prayers similar to the meeting in Nairobi. We are keen on doing exactly as instructed by our party leader,” Mr John Ngala, one of the youth group leaders told Nation.

But western Kenya Chamber of Commerce executive Ben Kitoto called for peace, asserting that the main activities were being held in Nairobi and therefore should not interfere with business at the town.

“It is unfortunate that people have decided to close their shops in fear of violence; we want to urge our youths to remain calm and follow rallies from their homes,” Mr Kitoto said.