3 killed as Kenya police, protesters clash during elections

Protesters throw stones during clashes with police forces in the Kibera district, Nairobi, on October 26, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2017
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3 killed as Kenya police, protesters clash during elections

NAIROBI: Kenyan police on Thursday fired bullets and tear gas at stone-throwing protesters in some opposition areas during the repeat of the disputed presidential election, reflecting bitter divisions in a country whose main opposition leader urged followers to boycott the vote.
Three people were killed in protests, a police source said: One in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu County, another in Homa Bay in the west and the third in Athi River town outside the capital, Nairobi. The police source spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Protesters set fires and blocked roads in Kisumu, where 25 were injured during clashes with police, said Aloyce Kidiwa, a county medical officer. The injuries included many gunshot wounds, Kidiwa said. Violence also erupted in Nairobi’s Kibera slum.
Not a single ballot box was delivered to central Kisumu’s 190 polling stations, said a senior election official, John Ngutai Muyekho. He sat with the uncollected boxes in a school guarded by security forces.
“If anyone comes to collect, I’m ready. But so far no one has,” Muyekho said.
One Kisumu school that saw huge lines of voters in the Aug. 8 election was closed, its gates locked.
“We are not going to vote and we are not going to allow it,” said Olga Onyanga, an opposition supporter.
Voting proceeded in areas where President Uhuru Kenyatta has support, but fewer voters were turning out in comparison to the August election that the Supreme Court nullified because it found illegalities and irregularities in the election process.
Kenyatta said 90 percent of the country was calm and said Kenya must remove ethnic loyalties from its politics in order to succeed. The president, who was declared the winner in August with 54 percent of the vote, had said security forces would be deployed nationwide to ensure order on Thursday, and he urged Kenyans to vote while respecting the rights of those who didn’t.
Voters lined up before dawn at a polling station in Kenyatta’s hometown of Gatundu and electoral workers prepared ballot papers by flashlight after heavy rains knocked out power to the site.
“Our hope for the country is that whoever emerges the winner will be able to unite the country, which is already torn apart by politicians and politics of the day,” said Simon Wambirio, a Gatundu resident.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who got nearly 45 percent of the vote in August, has said the new election won’t be credible because of a lack of electoral reform and accused Kenyatta of moving a country known for relative stability and openness toward authoritarian rule.
Odinga’s call for a boycott resonated strongly in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city. He has urged followers to stay away from polling stations because of concerns about a crackdown by security forces. Human rights groups said police killed at least 67 people during protests after the August vote; authorities confirmed a smaller number of deaths and said they had to take action against rioters.
Odinga has said the opposition coalition, National Super Alliance, will become a resistance movement. On Thursday, he said the movement will constitute a “People’s Assembly to guide the country to a fresh free and fair presidential election” as part of a peaceful resistance that will include boycotting goods and services by those who have supported Kenyatta’s “lawless grab of the presidency.”
Odinga and Kenyatta, who seeks a second term, also faced off in a 2013 election similarly marred by opposition allegations of vote-rigging. The opposition leader also ran unsuccessfully in 2007 — ethnic-fueled animosity after that vote killed more than 1,000 people and forced 600,000 from their homes.
Many observers say Kenya’s ethnic-based politics overshadow the promise of its democracy. Kenyatta is a Kikuyu, while Odinga is a Luo.


Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

Updated 8 min 15 sec ago
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Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

  • Selene Saavedra Roma immigrated illegally to the US from Peru as a child and was later married to an American citizen
  • Enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers”, she flew to Mexico for work and was detained due to lack of valid document

WASHINGTON: A Texas flight attendant who was enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers” flew to Mexico for work and was stopped by immigration authorities who forced her to spend more than a month in detention, her attorney said.
Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, who immigrated illegally to the US as a child, was released Friday from a detention center in Conroe, Texas, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Originally from Peru and married to an American citizen, she raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.
The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by US authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.
Soon after her lawyer, her husband, the airline and a flight attendants’ group publicly demanded her release, Saavedra Roman called to tell her husband she was getting out.
“She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me,’” her husband, David Watkins, told reporters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was looking into her status. Earlier, the agency said Saavedra Roman did not have a valid document to enter the country and was being detained while going through immigration court proceedings.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency that oversees the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — declined to discuss the case. But the agency says on its website that participants who travel outside the country without a special document allowing them to do so are no longer covered by the program.
The agency no longer issues the document to the program’s enrollees, according to the website.
People enrolled in the program are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act.
The Trump administration sought to end the Obama-era program but was blocked by litigation. New applications have been halted, but renewals continue for hundreds of thousands of immigrants already enrolled.
In a joint statement with the Association of Flight Attendants, Mesa Airlines chief executive Jonathan Ornstein apologized to Saavedra Roman and asked US authorities to release her, arguing that it was unfair to continually detain someone “over something that is nothing more than an administrative error and a misunderstanding.”
“She should have never been advised that she could travel,” Arroyo said. “It was a big mistake.”
Saavedra Roman — who is scheduled to appear before an immigration judge in April — attended Texas A&M University, where she met her husband.
Watkins said he was not initially worried about her assignment because they already obtained approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for her green card as the wife of an American citizen. She has no criminal record and has long paid her taxes, he said, and she checked with her employer before the trip.
Then she was detained. He could visit her only once a week and could only see her through thick glass. She sounded hopeless, he said.
“I told her, ‘Even if you get deported to Peru, I’ll just go with you,’” he said to reporters. “Regardless of whatever happens in the future, I am not giving up. I am going to keep fighting.”
In a statement, the union representing Saavedra Roman and her colleagues said the event “highlights the urgency of commonsense immigration reform and resolution for America’s children who are part of DACA.”