NAIROBI — One day after President Uhuru Kenyatta was reelected in a fiercely contested and divisive vote, violence erupted across parts of Kenya in clashes between protesters and security forces.
At least 24 people, including a 6-year-old child, have been killed since the election results were announced Friday night, according to the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights.
“Deaths can be directly linked to the elections and post-election environment,” said Kagwiria Mbogori, chairman of the commission. “Family and community members have indicated they were killed during the protests, which broke out in some parts of the country after the polls.”
Mbogori said loss of life is attributed to police using live ammunition and that 17 deaths were confirmed in Nairobi, the capital, alone.
In Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum, residents said that at least six people were killed late Friday and early Saturday in clashes with police. Young men in the slum had promised for days to hold demonstrations if Kenyatta defeated their candidate, Raila Odinga, who has not yet accepted the results and conceded, raising concerns of further violence.
Kenya’s acting security minister, Fred Matiangi, has disputed accusations that police had shot protesters, telling reporters Saturday that officers “did not use live bullets” and adding that “the country was safe and secure.”
But Mbogori said the commission “can confirm that there has been excessive use of force and misuse of firearms by security personnel dealing with members of the public who are exercising their right to peaceful assembly in accordance with our constitution.”
Although Kenya is considered a pillar of stability in East Africa, it is riven by tribal tensions that rise to the surface during national elections. In 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed in ethnic violence in the wake of that year’s election.
This year, the response to Kenyatta’s victory appears more tempered, with security forces more prepared than they were a decade ago. But residents in Nairobi and parts of western Kenya raised allegations of police shooting wildly at protesters.
In Mathare, another Nairobi slum, a 6-year old girl was killed by a stray bullet while on the balcony of her house, according to residents.
“The police were shooting in the air to disperse the crowds,” said Boniface Okoth, a resident of Mathare. “The child came to the balcony to check what was going on. She was shot and died on the spot.”
Separately, Reuters reported that nine men in Mathare were killed overnight. A security official told Reuters that they were killed in an anti-looting operation.
There were also protests in the western city of Kisumu, where police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Reuters reported that one man was killed there.
According to the official results, Kenyatta received 54.2 percent of the votes to Odinga’s 44.7 percent. Odinga has alleged that those results were manipulated, claiming the country’s electoral commission was part of the coverup. But international election observers said they considered the vote to be credible.
In Kibera, Celine Adhiambo said police were marching “deep inside the slum” on Friday night and Saturday morning.
“We do not know where they took the bodies,” she said. “We are in great danger.”
There were also protests in western Nyanza province. The regional coordinator there said young men there attempted to attack police with rocks, but that, “police dealt with the situation and cleared the roads.”
Kenyatta has pledged to address the country’s divide in his second term, saying in his acceptance speech Friday, “We are not enemies. We are all citizens of one republic.”