NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan police fired tear gas and water cannon on Monday to disperse hundreds of people protesting at alleged bias in the country’s electoral commission, and at least one person died in the disturbances.
The next presidential and parliamentary polls in Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy, are not due until August 2017 but politicians are already trying to galvanize supporters in a country long prone to political strife. Violence erupted after the 2007 vote and the opposition disputed the outcome in 2013.
On Monday police launched tear gas at a convoy of vehicles carrying opposition leaders and supporters accompanying them on foot in the capital Nairobi to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in the capital.
In the western city of Kisumu, the political bedrock of opposition leader Raila Odinga, one man died after sustaining an injury as he ran away from the clashes.
“The injury he has was in the mouth which is very much consistent with somebody who was running and then fell down,” Willy Lugusa, the regional police commander, told Reuters. He said police did not use live ammunition.
Officials at Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, where the man was rushed by ambulance, said the man had no gunshot wounds. “He fell down as he was running away from rioters,” Sam Oula, a doctor at the hospital, told Reuters.
The opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) accused police of using live bullets to break up their rallies, adding they had collected two cartridges from one spot where protesters were dispersed in Nairobi.
“We condemn this brutality in the strongest terms possible,” Moses Wetangula, one of the leaders, told a news conference.
CORD, led by Odinga who lost the 2013 vote and unsuccessfully challenged the result in court, has accused the electoral commission of bias and said its members should quit. IEBC officials have dismissed the charge and say they will stay.
Seven protesters were arrested in the port city of Mombasa, police said earlier. About 300 demonstrators there held up placards reading “IEBC must go home now”.
Protests called by CORD are in their fourth week. Police have sometimes used tear gas and water cannon against stone-throwing protesters.
Additional reporting by Joseph Akwiri in Mombasa; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by