[dehai-news] Monitor.co.ug: Protests shake Nairobi

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Mar 11 2009 - 09:17:09 EST

Protests shake Nairobi

John Ngirachu &Fred Mukinda, Monitor Correspondents


March 11, 2009

Thousands of students from the University of Nairobi yesterday held a
demonstration for more than six hours in the city to protest police shooting
one of them, but it degenerated into violence with stores ransacked,
journalists beaten and officers pelted with stones.
The students numbering around 3,000 held up traffic in several parts of
Nairobi as they protested the shooting of Godwin Ogato by police on Thursday
last week.

The students were clad in black T-shirts bearing the message "No tax for us,
no tax for MPs. Utado?" and chanted anti-government slogans. They had also
prepared placards bearing messages for the government.

Police, who had taken a low-key approach, began to move in when the students
began blocking roads, one with an oil-truck.

The protest was the latest expression in Kenya of widespread public
disaffection with the coalition government of President Mwai Kibaki and
Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

At first, the students poured into central Nairobi, waving placards and
chanting "Ali must go!" in a reference to controversial police commissioner
Hussein Ali.

Numbers quickly swelled to about 5,000, witnesses said, as slumdwellers,
jobless and others joined the fray.

The demonstrators banged on cars, pulled up trees, smashed the windows of
restaurants to grab food and drink, and beat half a dozen journalists with
sticks. Police who tried to approach a rump of protesters met a hail of

"We supported their right to carry out a protest, but now they seem to be
misusing their freedom," Julius Ndegwa, deputy provincial police boss, told
journalists. "This is utter stupidity."

Having restored peace after a traumatic post-election crisis that killed at
least 1,300 people last year, the unity government has stalled on political
reforms and seen corruption scandals emerge.

In recent weeks, public anger has focused on allegations of multiple police
killings of suspected members of the Mungiki criminal gang.

The controversy was fanned last week by the assassination of two human
rights activists and the later shooting to death by police of a student
demonstrating nearby.

"The youths and young professionals are fed up with what is happening in our
country," said a student leader, Victor Kaleli.

Police deny taking the law into their own hands and accuse activists of
whipping up protests.


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