Kenya’s leader urges peace ahead of vote as tensions rise

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
Updated 22 October 2017
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Kenya’s leader urges peace ahead of vote as tensions rise

NAIROBI: President Uhuru Kenyatta urged Kenyans to remain peaceful ahead of Thursday’s fresh presidential election, while a witness said police shot and wounded at least one person amid a rise in ethnic tensions in the capital, Nairobi.
A resident of the low-income Lucky Summer neighborhood said tensions grew after members of Kenyatta’s ethnic Kikuyu community performed a ceremony involving the slaughter of sheep. Some residents interpreted it as a war ceremony. Others said it was a ceremony to recruit members of the Mungiki, a proscribed quasi-religious gang known for beheadings that has been used in past elections to attack supporters of the opposition, Sheila Kariuki said.
Supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga went to the site of the ceremony and police shot at them when an argument started, Kariuki said. Running battles between stone-throwing residents ensued until local legislator Tom Kajwang arrived and calmed the Odinga supporters, Kariuki said.
Kajwang condemned the police for allowing the meeting to occur.
“This is intimidation that we won’t allow. This is aimed at provoking us and we will protect ourselves,” he said.
Area police chief Alice Kimeli confirmed that police had shot one person and said the group performing the ceremony had asked for police protection.
Kenyatta’s re-election in August was nullified by the Supreme Court, citing irregularities, and a fresh election was ordered. Tensions have increased ahead of Thursday’s vote, which Odinga has said he is boycotting because the electoral commission has not made the reforms he seeks.
One member of Kenya’s electoral commission has resigned, and its chairman has said it will be difficult to guarantee that the new vote will be credible.
Human rights groups have accused Kenyatta’s government of using police to clamp down on dissent. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week said police killed at least 67 opposition supporters in demonstrations after the results of the August vote were announced.
Violence has followed some previous elections. During a prayer meeting on Sunday, Kenyatta said the country narrowly avoided plunging into civil war after the flawed 2007 election, when more than 1,000 people were killed. Kenyatta was charged with orchestrating that violence, but the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) dropped the charges while citing threats to witnesses, bribery and interference.
Without citing the election, Pope Francis on Sunday spoke of his hopes for Kenya, telling faithful in St. Peter’s Square that the nation was in his thoughts.
“I am following, with particular attention, Kenya, which I visited in 2015, and for which I pray so that all the country will know how to face the current difficulties in a climate of constructive dialogue, having at heart the search for the common good,” the pope said.


US military declares five missing Marines dead after Japan crash

Updated 2 min 46 sec ago
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US military declares five missing Marines dead after Japan crash

  • The accident was initially reported to have happened during a refueling operation, but the military then said this had not been confirmed and that the circumstances were still under investigation
  • There are around 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon

TOKYO: The US military said Tuesday it had pronounced five missing Marines dead and was ending search operations nearly a week after two US military aircraft crashed off Japan.
The announcement brings the final toll in the December 6 crash to six, with a seventh crew member rescued after the deadly incident.
The crash involving an F/A-18 fighter jet with two crew onboard and a KC-130 refueling tanker with five crew occurred in the early morning around 100 kilometers (55 nautical miles) off the cape of Muroto in southwestern Japan.
It prompted a massive search and rescue operation, which the US military said had now been called off.
“Every possible effort was made to recover our crew and I hope the families of these selfless Americans will find comfort in the incredible efforts made by US, Japanese, and Australian forces during the search,” said US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The accident was initially reported to have happened during a refueling operation, but the military said Tuesday this had not been confirmed and that the circumstances were still under investigation.
There are around 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan and accidents are not uncommon.
In November, a US navy fighter jet crashed into the sea off Japan’s southern island of Okinawa and its two crew members were rescued alive.
And in November 2017, a C-2A “Greyhound” aircraft with 11 people on board went down in the Philippine Sea — eight were rescued and the search was called off for the remaining three after a two-day search.
The US military has also experienced difficulties with its Osprey helicopters, with several emergency landings, a deadly crash and a piece of a chopper falling on the grounds of a Japanese school.
Those incidents have stoked tensions between close military allies Washington and Tokyo and led to protests against the deployment of Ospreys by residents living near US bases.

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