Police Clash With Protesters In Nairobi Police opened fire on demonstrators welcoming home Kenya's longtime opposition leader, days before the Supreme Court rules on the legitimacy of last month's election.
NPR logo

Police Clash With Protesters In Nairobi

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/565153375/565153376" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Police Clash With Protesters In Nairobi

Police Clash With Protesters In Nairobi

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/565153375/565153376" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Political violence continues in Kenya. Four people were killed overnight, and a member of Parliament was shot in the leg today during confrontations with police. It all comes just a day before an important Supreme Court decision about the country's presidential election. NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from Nairobi. Good morning.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Let's start with this violence. What are you hearing? A bad night from all sides.

PERALTA: Yeah, the country's just really tense. I mean, overnight, there were four people killed in an area that's opposition heavy. And this morning, we heard accusations that they were shot to death because of their tribe. The police chief says that's just not true and that politicians are using that to incite violence. But either way, the killings have unleashed riots in some parts of Nairobi. People have set cars and buses on fire. And in some other areas, there's looting, and some residents have set up checkpoints where they're asking for ID, basically trying to confirm tribe. So there's running battles right now with police. And a member of Parliament from the opposition party was shot in the leg during one of those confrontations. And that's just likely to inflame tensions even more.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Right. And, of course, this is coming before this very important case before the Supreme Court. This is the second time the Supreme Court is deciding on a very important issue - whether or not to nullify the election again, right?

PERALTA: Yeah. If you remember, this same court threw out the first presidential elections back in August. And they said they found too many irregularities so they ordered new ones. Those were held last month. And now the court is deciding whether that election met the constitutional standards. There's a lot of questions before the court, but the central one has to do with violence. The Kenyan Constitution says that elections have to be held in an atmosphere that is free from intimidation and free from violence. But just before these elections, the opposition leader pulled out of the contest.

And on election day itself, a lot of his supporters boycotted, but they also threw rocks, and they intimidated people coming to the polls. It was so bad in about 10 percent of the country that polls didn't even open. So it's clear there was violence, and there was intimidation. But the government is asking the court not to throw out these elections because they say it'll set the country on a path to a perpetual election season. And we've already been at this for three months. And the lawyer for President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was declared the winner in both of these elections, also is arguing that it'll send the message to the opposition that they can use violence any time they want to invalidate elections.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do we have any idea which way the court will come down on this?

PERALTA: No. I mean, not really. We are in uncharted territory here in Kenya. When the court threw out the first case, it was the first time an African court threw out the victory of a sitting president. So, you know, this court has shown courage and independence. But the ground has shifted. The judges have been openly intimidated. And one of their bodyguards was shot last month. So they're under intense pressure. And who knows how they will rule? I think what we know for sure is that whatever they decide, it's bound to have serious consequences on the streets.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta in Nairobi. Thank you so much.

PERALTA: Thank you, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL TEN ELEVEN'S "THINKING LOUDLY"

Copyright © 2017 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.