Kenya on edge after vote fraud claims spark deadly protests

Armed Kenyan police run to disperse protesters in the Kibera slum in Nairobi on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 13 August 2017
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Kenya on edge after vote fraud claims spark deadly protests

NAIROBI: Tensions remained high in Kenya on Sunday after 11 people died in violent protests and the opposition stood by its demand that the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta be overturned.
While much of the country was calm, stone-throwing supporters of defeated veteran rival Raila Odinga squared off on Saturday with security forces in opposition strongholds in the country’s west and the slums of the capital Nairobi.
A senior police official told AFP on condition of anonymity that eight bodies from Nairobi’s slums had arrived at the city morgue, and an AFP photographer saw the body of a young girl whose family said she had been shot in the back while watching the protests from a balcony.
In western Kenya, a police officer said a man had been killed during a protest in the town of Siaya and local government official Wilson Njega confirmed one person had been shot dead in protests at Kisumu.
It remains unclear what the next move will be for Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition, but party leaders have said they will neither back down nor take their grievances to court.
“We will not be cowed, we will not relent,” NASA official Johnson Muthama told reporters on Saturday.
He and other opposition stalwarts insist that elections held on Tuesday were manipulated. They also accuse the police of cracking down on protesters in an effort to force the coalition “into submission.”
Addressing the media on Saturday, Muthama held up a bag full of bullet casings he claimed were used by security forces to kill “innocent Kenyans” taking part in street demonstrations after the Friday night announcement of Kenyatta’s victory.
“We wish to assure the people that we have the will, the determination, and the means to make sure your vote will count at the end of the day,” he said.

Kenya is no stranger to post-election violence, and scars still run deep from a disputed 2007 vote which led to two months of ethno-political clashes, leaving 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.
But while those riots stretched across Kenya, this year’s unrest is limited to a handful of areas.
Interior Minister Fred Matiangi downplayed the clashes, calling protesters “criminal elements” and saying there had been no casualties.
“The police have not used live bullets on any peaceful protesters,” he said.
Odinga, 72, has not yet addressed his supporters after losing his fourth shot at the presidency. He believes elections in 2007, 2013 and now 2017 were snatched away from him.
He laid out accusations of a massive hacking attack on election commission servers, and said the opposition had evidence the true results — which showed him to be the winner — were being hidden.
The electoral commission (IEBC) denied the accusations, and argued his supporting documents were riddled with arithmetic errors and originated from a Microsoft database while the electronic tallying system was based on Oracle.
The IEBC denials have been backed up by international monitors along with Kenyan election monitoring group ELOG, which said their 8,300 observers and parallel tallying operation found no fault with the result.
And former UN chief Kofi Annan, who helped mediate the 2007 crisis, congratulated Kenyatta on his win and urged Odinga, “a courageous defender of democracy,” to turn to the courts with his grievances.

Politics in Kenya is largely divided along tribal lines, and the winner-takes-all nature of elections has long stoked communal tensions.
Odinga’s ethnic Luo supporters — and their allies from other groups — believe they have been denied political power by elites from the Kikuyus, the same ethnic group as Kenyatta, the country’s biggest community.
“President Kenyatta, unlike his first term, must include everyone in his government,” wrote the Daily Nation in an editorial, warning that limiting power to his tribal allies was “exacerbating exclusion and creating resentment and disillusionment.”
In his acceptance speech Kenyatta, 55, urged Odinga and his supporters to “work together... so that we can build this nation together.”
“Let us be peaceful... We have seen the results of political violence. And I am certain that there is no single Kenyan who would wish for us to go back to this.”


US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

This file photo taken on July 19, 2018, shows Myanmar's Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, saluting to pay his respects to Myanmar independence hero General Aung San and eight others assassinated in 1947, during a ceremony to mark the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon. (AFP)
Updated 15 min 43 sec ago
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US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

  • A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh
  • A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders it said were responsible for extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims, barring them from entry to the United States.
The steps, which also covered Min Aung Hlaing’s deputy, Soe Win, and two other senior commanders and their families, are the strongest the United States has taken in response to massacres of minority Rohingyas in Myanmar, also known as Burma. It named the two others as Brig. Generals Than Oo and Aung Aung.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo said a recent disclosure that Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at the village of Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in 2017 was “one egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”
“The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days,” Pompeo said.
The Inn Din massacre was uncovered by two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.
The US announcement came on the first day of an international ministerial conference on religious freedom hosted by Pompeo at the State Department that was attended by Rohingya representatives.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” said Pompeo, who has been a strong advocate of religious freedom.

“GROSS VIOLATIONS“
“We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.”
A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. UN investigators have said that Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent.”
The State Department has so far stopped short of calling the abuses genocide, referring instead to ethic cleansing and a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities.
“He (Pompeo) has not come to the point at which he has decided to make a further determination. Generally our policies are focused on changing behavior, promoting accountability, and we have taken today’s actions with those goals in mind,” a senior State Department official told reporters, asking not to be named.
The military in Myanmar, where Buddhism is the main religion, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.
A declaration of genocide by the US government could require Washington to impose even stronger sanctions on Myanmar, a country with which it has competed for influence with regional rival China.
The senior State Department official said Washington hoped the latest steps would strengthen the hand of the civilian government in Myanmar in its effort to amend the constitution to reduce military influence in politics.
“Our hope is that these actions ... will help to further delegitimize the current military leadership, and can help the civilian government gain control of the military,” he said.
The Trump administration had thus far imposed sanctions on four military and police commanders and two army units involved in the abuses against the Rohingya and had been under pressure from US Congress to take tougher steps.
A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes.