After a night of protests against a disputed election, an uneasy calm prevailed across most of the Kenyan capital on Saturday, as residents stayed home, shops and markets remained shut and the police and paramilitary forces maintained a heavy presence.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner of an Aug 8 vote the electoral commission said was free and fair. The main opposition National Super Alliance said the commission’s computer system was hacked to rig the results and warned that its supporters would rise up in response.
Protesters spilled onto the streets of several of Nairobi’s slums, including the southwestern areas of Kibera and Kawangware, soon after the outcome was announced, setting dwellings alight and looting shops, as police used teargas to disperse them. There were also protests in Kisumu, an opposition stronghold in western Kenya, where the Associated Press reported two people were killed.
The unrest had abated in Kawangware by Saturday morning, residents said. “We are expecting peace,” said Gilbert Githinji, 58, who sells hardware and electrical goods from a stall in the area. “We are not worried. The government is ready to deal with this. I think things will be back to normal on Monday.”
The situation remained tense in Kibera, Nairobi’s biggest slum, where small groups of demonstrators used rocks and burning tires to barricade a road before being dispersed by the paramilitary. The sound of several shots being fired could be heard.
“They have not delivered what we have voted for,” said Wycliffe Ochieng, a 20-year-old laborer from Kibera. “People are very angry. We have to protest, because they are going against our wishes. The police are using teargas and live bullets. We have not had any information of anyone being hurt.” Fred Matiang’i, the acting interior secretary, said that apart from the flareups in Kibera and Kisumu, the country remained calm and peaceful.
“By and large, lives have returned to normal,” he told reporters in Nairobi. “There have been erratic incidents of lawlessness. The security forces have reported that they have responded appropriately and they have restored normalcy in most of these areas. Our country is safe, our country is secure.”