Two protesters were shot dead by police in the Kenyan capital on Wednesday as unrest broke out after opposition claims of massive rigging in an election that President Uhuru Kenyatta looked certain to win.
An AFP photographer saw one of the victims, a young man with a massive gunshot wound to the head, while a senior police officer confirmed two had been killed in the flashpoint slum of Mathare.
Police fired teargas — and in some cases live bullets into the air — to disperse several protests, which erupted in opposition strongholds in Nairobi as well as the western city of Kisumu after Odinga claimed a massive hacking attack had manipulated electronic tallying results.
Kenyatta looked to have an unassailable lead, according to unofficial results streamed onto the election commission (IEBC) website, handing him 54 per cent compared to Odinga’s 44.7 per cent, with votes from over 96 per cent of polling stations counted.
The bloodshed comes a decade after a disputed poll, which Odinga lost to former president Mwai Kibaki, led to two months of clashes that left 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.
Decrying a “sham” tallying process, Odinga detailed accusations of a major attack on the electronic system, saying hackers had gained entry using the identity of top IT official Chris Msando, who was found murdered and tortured late last month.
The 72-year-old, who is making his fourth bid for the presidency as the flagbearer for the National Super Alliance (NASA) coalition, accused his rivals of stealing victory from him through rigging in 2007 and in 2013. “You can only cheat a people for so long,” he said.
‘Free and fair’
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati insisted the poll was “free and fair”.
Raphael Tuju, secretary-general of Kenyatta’s Jubilee party, urged the opposition to “look at the figures soberly” and accept the results. “You cannot claim that results are fake with respect to presidential vote and you welcome the areas where your governors and MPs have won convincingly. You have to accept the results however they come,” he said.
Odinga urged his supporters to “remain calm as we look deep into this matter.” But he added: “I don’t control the people.”
As his speech ended, scores of supporters gathered in Kisumu and Mathare, burning tyres, setting up barricades and engaging in running battles with riot police.
However the protests remained isolated, and in opposition strongholds where elections tend to stoke tensions.
Nevertheless, the normally traffic-choked streets of Nairobi remained deserted as the country held its breath over the results.