Riots break out near our project in Kisumu after the OMD Chairman was murdered. Fears of security are on-going in what could become a repeat of the bloody 2007 election riots.
After weeks of bloodshed and unrest that swamped Kenya following the 2007 presidential election, there are fears of a repeat situation as riots break out in Kisumu.
In 2007, angry supporters of candidate Raila Odinga were convinced that the elections had been rigged in favour of Mwai Kibaki, and they broke out into a bloody violence that eventually led to a coalition between the two, with Kibaki remaining as President and Odinga becoming the new Prime Minister.
The current riots in Kisumu have similar rages behind them, as ODM Chairman Shem Onyango Kwega was shot several times last Monday as he was driving to the bank with his wife. Mr Kwega was said to be carrying 1.3 million shillings in a briefcase at the time.
Many of Kwega’s supporters believe that his murder was a reaction to his political campaign, but another man, a medical researcher, was also killed close to the scene just a day before Kwega, suggesting that the murders could be linked to a gang of muggers instead.
On his Twitter page Prime Minister Odinga has urged Kisumu residents “to observe peace until investigations into the recent wave of killings is concluded”, but a repeat of the last election riots seems possible.
Supporters who surrounded the hospital entrance and demanded information on Kwega’s condition began to destroy the contents of the building until the staff agreed for the body to be brought into view. The body was then quickly taken to the morgue as the crowd again turned violent. Demonstrators have also stormed the Kondele police station, angry with its failure to act on the increasing level of crime.
Video footage from the Kenyan Television Network shows streets lined with protestors clashing with riot police, also reporting that 3 people had been killed in the conflict.
A witness speaking to the local KBC news said that 3 people had been burnt by an exploding tear gas canister. Six people have also been admitted at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga hospital with terrible gunshot wounds.
Despite this devastating violence, we were incredibly relieved to hear that the street children who attend our project in Kisumu were unaffected by the riots and are relatively safe. We say relatively, because these children were already at risk from abuse and neglect, which we hope will not increase due to the recent events. Issues of security are still on-going as the police have yet to fully manage the situation.