Two Kenyan journalists attacked while waiting for Odinga’s speech

Kenya on map
Kenya on map

Two Kenyan journalists were attacked inside the headquarters of the Orange Democratic Movement while waiting for a speech by opposition leader Raila Odinga responding to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.

Journalists walked out en masse after veteran political journalist, Francis Gachuri, and 25-year-old television journalist, Jane Gatwiri, were assaulted while waiting for Mr. Odinga to speak.

Mr. Garwiri said: “we heard in Swahili, ‘Citizen (TV) must leave. When I was trying to record, I got a very hot slap on my face – my right cheek.

“Someone said I should move, pushed me, my camera was about to be broken.”

Some of Mr. Odinga’s supporters have accused Citizen of bias towards Mr. Kenyatta after the channel ran a tally of recent vote.

Mr. Odinga, who has lost his fourth election, was expected to give his first reaction to Mr. Kenyatta’s on Monday victory, but delayed a speech planned for Tuesday morning by several hours.

Mr. Odinga boycotted the poll, saying it would not be fair.

Mr. Kenyatta won by a margin of 98 per cent, provoking anger in some pro-Odinga strongholds, whose residents burnt tyre barricades and threw rocks at police.

His spokesman later issued an apology for the attack on the journalists, which happened in the Wiper Party headquarters, a party in his coalition.

“The Coalition registers unreserved apology to newsmen who fell victim to this unfortunate incident.

“The youth acted on their own and we condemn their actions in strongest terms possible,” the statement said.

There were no reports of protests elsewhere as supporters waited for Mr. Odinga’s speech.

“We are just waiting for Baba to speak,” Desmond Litava, an Odinga supporter said in Kawangware, a restive slum in Nairobi, using a term of respect for the leader.

Mr. Odinga could call for his supporters to take to the streets, unleashing chaos in cities such as Nairobi and Kisumu to the detriment of the already struggling economy.

After a disputed election in 2007, around 1,200 people were killed when political protests sparked ethnic clashes, leading to a prolonged slump in the region’s richest and most important economy.

On the other hand, Mr. Odinga could limit his appeal to the courts, as he did in 2013, and yield to diplomatic pressure to engage in post-election `national dialogue’ with Mr. Kenyatta.

But in his acceptance speech, Mr. Kenyatta ruled out the possibility of dialogue with Mr. Odinga if the opposition lodged any legal cases contesting his victory.

A report said that August 8 vote was annulled by the Supreme Court on the basis of procedural irregularities in the vote-tallying.

Mr. Odinga said the re-run was also flawed because of a failure to replace key officials of the election commission.

According to diplomatic sources, 14 people have died in political violence nationwide since Thursday’s vote, while a provisional government tally said nine people had been killed.

(Reuters/NAN)


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