Business in many parts of Nairobi city centre came to a standstill on Monday as the police engaged Cord demonstrators in running battles.
Police tried to ward off the protesters from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s offices at Anniversary Towers where they were agitating for the removal of chairman Issack Hassan and the rest of the commissioners.
Business owners on Moi Avenue, Koinange Street, Muindi Mbingu and University Way hastily closed shop and pulled down the shutters, fearing looting from the demonstrators.
Hapless pedestrians caught between the police and the demonstrators ran in confusion, trying to escape the crowd, while motorists beat a hasty retreat to get away from the stones, tear gas and water canisters.
Broken glass, stones and twigs were strewn around in the wake of the violence.
However, the demonstrations, which began outside the Sarova Panafric Hotel, where Cord politicians had gathered for a pre-protest strategy meeting, did not start off violently.
Led by Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Nyong’o, some Cord legislators and supporters left Panafric on foot at around midday, and made their way towards Uhuru Park.
They were accompanied by protesters on motorcycles, who hooted and revved their engines causing a racket on Kenyatta Avenue.
The protesters spent a few minutes at Uhuru Park, their numbers swelling, chanting slogans and waving an effigy of Mr Hassan. They then headed towards Haile Selassie Avenue.
Things continued in this largely peaceful vein until all hell broke loose near Anniversary Towers.
Anti-riot police shot tear gas canisters into the crowds to disperse them.
The protesters threw back stones and hurled insults at the officers, culminating in a confrontation that spilled over onto the neighbouring streets.