Politicians' squabble sparks clashes in Siaya - Daily Nation

Gunshots, arrests as Atandi, Martin Otieno supporters clash

Sunday January 27 2019

Hotel burnt in Siaya demos

A view of the hotel that was torched on January 26, 2019 as supporters of Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi and businessman Martin Otieno clashed in in Siaya town. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By VICTOR OTIENO
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Police fired several gunshots to separate supporters of Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi and those of his rival, businessman Martin Otieno, during a confrontation on Saturday evening.

Three people were arrested in the scuffle that began about 4pm and will be taken to court on Monday.

A hotel in the town was burnt down and reports indicated that at least one person was injured but outgoing Siaya County Commander Ambrose Mwakawa denied this claim.

SQUABBLE

Mr Mwakawa told the Nation that trouble started when two politicians differed at a burial in K’Ogelo.

“There was a misunderstanding between the two politicians at the burial so their supporters began fighting each other," he said.

He said that armed with crude weapons, they extended the confrontation to the town forcing police to step in to restore order.

“The officers there fired in the air to disperse them.”

Hotel burnt in Siaya demos

A view of the hotel that was torched on January 26, 2019 as supporters of Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi and businessman Martin Otieno clashed in in Siaya town. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

DAMAGE

Mr Mwakawa said some of Mr Atandi's supporters had intended to destroy vehicles belonging to Mr Otieno that had been parked at Ahindi gardens.

The hotel which was burnt reportedly belonged to one of Mr Otieno's supporters.

The conflict caused tension to rise, the fear being that the groups would clash again.

Hotel burnt in Siaya demos

A view of the hotel that was torched on January 26, 2019 as supporters of Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi and businessman Martin Otieno clashed in in Siaya town. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The police boss, however, assured the people of their security and that of their property, saying nobody will be allowed to disturb the peace.

Mr Mwakawa warned the politicians and the groups against violence and asked them to use proper channels to seek solutions to their problems.

“The situation is under control and therefore there should be no fear. Youths need to behave well and be careful when addressing their grievances. There mustn't always be violence,” said the county commander.

Hotel burnt in Siaya demos

A view of the hotel that was torched on January 26, 2019 as supporters of Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi and businessman Martin Otieno clashed in in Siaya town. PHOTO | VICTOR OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

ATANDI'S ACCOUNT

Reached for comment by phone on Sunday, Mr Atandi noted that he was not in the constituency at the time of the chaos and urged police to thoroughly investigate the matter.

He denied the police commander's claim that he attended the funeral.

"That account by the commander is false. The information I got from the assistant chief in Nyangoma was that the funeral ended peacefully," he said.

Regarding the fight, he said youths aligned to "a certain county businessman were paid to beat and harass civilians in town".

"When they accosted and beat up a primary school teacher, Mr Erick Odiyo, and a pick up operator in Siaya, residents turned against them, beat them up and took them to police," he said.

He regretted that residents took matters into their own hands and burnt the property "where the goons who caused mayhem operated from".

OTIENO'S COMMENT

Mr Otieno said those who were targeted in the attacks were perceived critics of Mr Atandi's.

"Well known supporters and aides of the MP attacked his critics and even torched a hotel belonging to one of them," he said.

He called on police to investigate the incident and past crimes linked to the MP.

Mr Atandi has pending assault cases at Siaya Police Station.

One concerns an attack on nominated MCA Winnie Otieno by youths associated with him while another is on an assault on Ministry of Education official Modester Anyuor.