Raila car windscreen hit as police disperse violent Cord demo

Tuesday May 17 2016

STELLA CHERONO
By STELLA CHERONO
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JACQUELINE KUBANIA
By JACQUELINE KUBANIA
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PAULINE KAIRU
By PAULINE KAIRU
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The protests called by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) in Nairobi turned violent on Monday, leading to the damage of Mr Raila Odinga’s vehicle.

Cord leaders claimed that police used live ammunition to disperse the crowd but Nairobi County Police Commander, Japhet Koome, said no live bullets were used during the demo.

Central OCPD Paul Wanjama said that it was difficult to immediately establish which firearm discharged bullets during the protests.

“You understand that both the police and Cord had guns and anyone may have used the bullets,” Mr Wanjama said. He, however, said the police would investigate the claims by Cord leaders.

Mr Wanjama could not comment on the injuries purportedly sustained by activist Japheth Moroko.

LIVE BULLETS CLAIMS

According to Cord leaders, Mr Moroko was grazed in the head and in the leg by bullets. 

The activist, who was bleeding profusely, was admitted at the Nairobi Hospital, where he was scheduled for an operation. 

It was not clear however whether he was hurt by a bullet or another object as the Nairobi Hospital declined to give details.

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula accused the police of using live bullets to attack the demonstrators and to hit Mr Odinga’s car whose windscreen was damaged during the protests that were dispersed by police using teargas and water canons.

ODM Communications Director Philip Etale circulated photos of Mr Odinga’s vehicle on social media with the caption, “Below is my boss Raila Odinga’s vehicle which was hit at today as they went to the IEBC offices”.

The message, however, did not indicate that the car’s windscreen was damaged by a bullet.

He later told the Nation that the car had been hit by a bullet, endangering the life of the Cord leader.

Mr Raila had arrived at the protests alongside Mr Wetang’ula, Mr Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Party and Mr Nick Salat of Kanu and elected leaders Elizabeth Ongoro, Tom Kajwang, Simba Arati and James Orengo.

THIRD ANTI-IEBC DEMO

Monday's demonstration was the third in as many weeks but was the most violent, with wananchi accusing the protesters of mugging, theft and destruction of property.

Cord has said the demonstrations will be held every Monday to push for the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Opposition leaders had just started addressing a crowd that had assembled outside the Anniversary Towers — the IEBC headquarters — when police lobbed teargas canisters at them.

The political leaders rushed into their cars which were strategically parked at Lilian Towers and left the scene of the protests.

Police dispersed the crowd just as Senator James Orengo had started addressing them, with calls for the Government to investigate the death of businessman Jacob Juma who was buried on Saturday after he was shot dead in Nairobi a week earlier.

Photos and videos were later shared on social media, amid allegations that police had used excessive force.

Cord’s communication officer Dennis Onyango said several cars had been hit by bullets during the protests. He became agitated when asked where the cars were.

“The cars are parked at Mr Raila’s offices at Capitol Hill,” Mr Onyango said.

Police, however, denied using any live bullets to disperse the crowds during the protests. They also said that some of the spent cartridges collected were not discharged from police firearms.

Cord claimed that the left side of the screen of Mr Odinga’s car was shattered by a bullet fired by a police officer.

Pictures shared widely on social media show a dent with several cracks around it on the screen of the white car that had been used by the Cord leader.

Cord leaders have vowed to continue with the anti–IEBC protests on Monday until the commissioners are forced out of office.

“We should not let the IEBC issue continue to divide and polarise our country. No referee can force himself onto any game,” Mr Wetang’ula said.

LOOTING REPORTED

During the protests, looters took advantage of Cord’s demo to steal from shops and business premises in the city centre.

When police lobbed teargas at the protesters on University Way, some of them made their way into shops on Bishara and Muindi Mbingu streets and stole valuables.

A group countering the anti-IEBC demonstrators emerged and the two confronted each other violently.

Meanwhile, a Jubilee MP criticised the demonstrations, saying that they were  an embarrassment to the country.

“We were told that these demonstrations will be peaceful but all we have seen is looting and hooliganism,” said Dagoretti MP Dennis Waweru.

“We will not stand for this kind of behaviour and we hold Raila Odinga personally responsible.”

Mr Waweru said that Jubilee MPs in Nairobi will meet today to “chart a way forward and figure out how to protect our constituents” from the looting and violent attacks.

“Cord should follow due process to eject IEBC out of office, and should stop resorting to shows of violence,” he said.

Mr Munyori Buku, the Public Communication Director at State House also criticised the demonstrations.

“Raila Odinga is not interested in a new IEBC,” said Mr Buku in a message to the Nation.

“The truth of the matter is that Raila Odinga is fighting the Constitution because it didn’t — and is unlikely — to make him President”.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission said that demonstrations being staged against IEBC are permissible as long as they are peaceful and non-destructive.